Nathan Cleary at centre of Eels selection theory for NRL grand final

Panthers player Nathan Cleary (pictured) celebrates a team try.
The Eels have made it clear they will target and put more pressure on Nathan Cleary (pictured) in the NRL grand final. (Getty Images)

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur's team selection appears to have hinted at the aggressive tactics the Eels plan to use against Nathan Cleary and the Panthers in the NRL grand final.

Arthur made the shock decision to pick Eels enforcer Nathan Brown for the season decider, despite having not played since Round 17.

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Brown comes in at the expense of Bryce Cartwright.

The selection of the in-your-face defender appears to be a decision aimed at ruffling the feathers of Panthers halfback Cleary.

Three weeks ago in week one of the finals, Cleary returned from suspension to help kick Parramatta out of the contest to win 27-8.

And Arthur will be hoping Brown's aggression could lead to a tactical advantage and put more pressure on Penrith star Cleary throughout the contest.

NRL 360's Paul Crawley believes the Eels won't want Penrith to jump out to a lead and Brown brings the aggression to hold the reigning champ's at bay.

"Especially watching how Souths' bench fell away last week," Crawley said of the decision.

"Nathan Brown brings that aggression and energy and he will be in their face.

"He will be out to get Cleary and put some pressure on and that's what he needs to do."

NRL reporter Paul Kent agreed with Crawley and said it was a good tactical move.

"I think it's pretty inspired thinking to be honest," Kent said.

"I really like the selection. We know what Nathan Brown brings.

"He is aggressive. He is in the game the whole time and he does it all flat strap."

 Nathan Brown (pictured) during a game for the Eels.
Coach Brad Arthur has picked Nathan Brown (pictured) for the NRL grand final, despite not playing since Round 17. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Parramatta Eels to target Nathan Cleary in GF

Following their week one finals loss to the Panthers, Arthur was critical of his team.

The coach put the blame firmly at the feet of his forwards for not putting enough kick pressure on Cleary.

It's a point being well taken by the Eels in their bid for a drought-breaking title.

But, as has proven the case all season, talking about stopping Cleary is one thing, finding a way to actually get to him is another.

"Obviously they have a good system in how they protect their kicker," said Eels back-rower Shaun Lane, who will mark up on Cleary's side of the field.

Eels coach Brad Arthur (pictured) speaks at a press conference.
Eels coach Brad Arthur (pictured) has picked forward Nathan Brown for the NRL grand final against the Panthers. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

"He stands quite deep as well and has such a big boot on him that he's able to stand a long way away from the ruck.

"So it's difficult to get to him unless you're 100 per cent with your kick pressure.

"They clearly have an emphasis on protecting him and getting him the best possible situation to put in a good kick.

"They get quick play-the-balls the play before it a lot of the time with (fullback) Dylan Edwards, which makes it very difficult to then get kick pressure."

with AAP

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