Parramatta's inexperienced semi-finals combatants are ready to handle the headlights of September, according to grand final winner Michael Jennings, who is viewing Thursday's game against second-placed Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium as a dress-rehearsal for next month.
The fifth-ranked Eels are set to feature in the finals for the first time since 2009 and despite Jennings, Kirisome Auva'a and Beau Scott having won titles elsewhere the club's eight-year absence from the top eight naturally means they will enter the semis with less experience than rivals.
Pressing for a top-four finish themselves they can expect a trial run of sorts in front of a big crowd in Brisbane on Thursday night.
"It's a great challenge for us if we want to consider ourselves a top-four team. This is a great test for finals footy and I think it's come at a great time for us," Jennings said.
"It's going to have that [finals] feel when you go up there and a few of the young fellas haven't played in front of a big crowd at Suncorp. They're ready. Throughout the whole year they've shown that they're ready and when we played Brisbane last time, it was a great test for us."
That was less than four weeks ago and the Eels' come-from-behind 24-14 win featured several flare-ups that add spice to the round 24 re-match. Parramatta second-rower Kenny Edwards drew the ire of Broncos players for a cheap shot on young winger Jonus Pearson and Jennings later branded the conduct of Brisbane forward Josh McGuire as "dirty" after seeing footage of him stepping on the ankle of Eels captain Tim Mannah.
Foul play or not, Brad Arthur's side are not expecting the welcome mat to be rolled out in Brisbane.
"That's just going to be part of the game. When you've got two good teams going at it, that's what's going to happen, it's going to be fiery," Jennings said.
"Everyone is going to be competitive and doing their best to try and get the win.
"They're a different team when they're playing up there. For the past month, how we've been playing footy, we just need to bring that up to Brisbane."
While the Eels don't have the finals track record of others in the top eight they will be boosted in coming weeks by the anticipated availability of Scott from a bicep injury that has sidelined him since round 15.
Scott has been named in their preliminary 21-man squad to take on the Broncos but said on Sunday he was no chance for the next couple of weeks. When he does press for selection again the St George Illawarra premiership winner from 2010 shapes as a handy asset on and off the field.
"I guess my role is to take a bit of my experience from the last 10 or 11 years and try to pass it on," Scott said.
"I think it's a great opportunity for the fellas who haven't been in this position to get the taste of it and really ake it with both hands."
The story Eels braced for finals dress rehearsal in Broncos rematch first appeared on Brisbane Times.