Image courtesy of NRL.com
The 2020 NRL Draw has officially dropped and it has delivered a mixed bag for the Parramatta Eels. There is plenty to dive into so let’s get right into the meat and potatoes of the 25 regulation season rounds of the upcoming season.
- The Parramatta Eels will enjoy headliner status for the 2020 season as they host traditional rivals, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Bankwest Stadium on Thursday Night Footy.
- Parramatta play just three home games, including our annual trip to Darwin, in the first ten rounds in a grueling away-trip schedule. It is no secret that the Achilles’ Heel of Brad Arthur and his troops has been their inability to win consistently on the road so this will be a true test of the mental growth of the team. An Easter Monday ‘away’ game against the Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium in Round 5 helps somewhat but the Eels absolutely have to overcome this weakness.
- Conversely, the Eels will enjoy a whopping 9 home games and a bye in their final fifteen rounds – although a punishing line-up awaits them. The Rabbitohs (x2), Sea-Eagles, Raiders, Roosters and Storm feature in that stretch among 2019 contenders while fixtures against the Panthers (x2), Tigers and Knights always carry trap game considerations.
- A manageable Magic Round! The scars of the inaugural Magic Round thrashing delivered unto the Eels by the Melbourne Storm lingered for a month as they subsequently bottomed out before eventually rebounding. The New Zealand Warriors are far from a free win but they will be a much more welcome opponent when Parramatta travel to Suncorp Stadium in Round 8 for the gala round.
- Speaking of the Melbourne Storm, the Eels will host their interstate adversaries for the first time since 2016 when they meet in Round 22 in prime-time footy on Friday night. First things first though, the Eels will need to take care of a full strength Melbourne contingent at AAMI Park in Round 10. The regular season double-header means that the Eels will likely need to go weather the Storm on separate occasions in 2020 if they intend on making a deep push into the post-season.
Bulldogs (Round 1, Round 6)
Broncos (Round 7, Round 20)
Cowboys (Round 3, Round 12)
Dragons (Round 4, Round 23)
Knights (Round 24)
Panthers (Round 11, Round 25)
Rabbitohs (Round 14, Round 19)
Raiders (Round 18)
Roosters (Round 21)
Sea Eagles (Round 9, Round 17)
Sharks (Round 15)
Storm (Round 10, Round 22)
Titans (Round 2)
Warriors (Round 8)
Wests Tigers (Round 5, Round 13)
Five Day Turnarounds
The Eels cop a NRL high 3 five-day turnarounds in 2020. They share this burden with the Cronulla Sharks and the South Sydney Rabbitohs in a shockingly lop-sided case of scheduling. Beyond that six clubs have to plan around a single five-day turnaround a piece while the remaining seven clubs have no such issues at all with a short week.
It all really does raise an eyebrow as to how the schedule can fall into place in such a way that three clubs are so heavily impacted by short weeks to recovery and prepare for their next opponent.
- Round 5 – Round 6
- Round 11 – Round 12
- Round 18 – Round 19
Round 1 – Round 8 (Bulldogs, Titans, Cowboys, Dragons, Tigers, Bulldogs, Broncos, Warriors)
It is almost cheating to start with an entire third of the season here but the Eels open up their campaign with eight extremely winnable games – regardless of home or away billing – as they face only one 2019 Top 8 team in the Broncos.
Round 17 – Round 22 (Sea Eagles, Raiders, Rabbitohs, Broncos, Roosters, Storm)
If the opening stretch could be considered a cake-walk by NRL standards, Brad Arthur will be looking to have the mother of all bye weeks because a brutal 6-game stretch awaits him after the week off in Round 16. He is staring down the barrel of a line-up that features five teams from the 2019 finals series including the entire Top 4 and the eventual premiers.
There you have it!
What’s your take on the draw? Are you concerned about the heavy away game load to start the season or pleased about the tremendous run home at Bankwest Stadium?
And those five day turn arounds!
Plenty to digest.
Over to you.