NRL Team List
Let’s go! Brad Arthur has eschewed conventional selection form this week and dropped a bomb in naming Jai Field to replace Mitchell Moses. While Field was one of the candidates I explored in yesterday’s blog ‘The Surrogate 7’, I incorrectly deduced that ‘BA’ would favour a known quantity in Brad Takairangi – especially given that there has been no Canterbury Cup to leverage form or match fitness from. Instead, Arthur has zigged when all the money was on a zag and named the high upside option to partner Dylan Brown in the halves.
It is a bold move from ‘BA’. One that speaks in equal measures to the confidence he has in other playmakers and to just how much Field has impressed in exceptionally limited opportunities. Naturally you would expect the Eels to streamline his responsibilities and generally act as a pressure valve for Parramatta’s new field marshall in Dylan Brown. The K.I.S.S system should be in full effect here as the coaching staff keep it simple so as not to overload Field in his club debut.
Still, you can’t help but be excited to see what this young tyro can bring to the table on Friday night. Field’s electric pace will allow the Eels to use familiar concepts down the right edge – although his passing game likely won’t be to the level of Moses. Of course there is a risk of expectations rapidly growing beyond reasonable boundaries and it should be stressed that Field is coming into the NRL ice cold. He last saw real footy on the 15th of March in the one and only round of Canterbury Cup to date. Parramatta will need to protect Field defensively and it is quite possible that he will split game time with Brad Takairangi if there are any concerns about conditioning.
It should be apparent but I am pumped up about this move. It is a selection that could herald further aggressive roster moves in the coming season and beyond as Arthur backs the strength of the exceptional core of talent he has nurtured to now in turn nurture a new wave of talent.
In other news, David Gower is back baby! He was stuck on 98 not out for far too long but will take a cheeky single to move to his 99th career game as an Eel in what will be a watershed moment for the one-time NRL journeyman when he finally gets to the milestone. Clinton Gutherson is hot on his heels to join the century club at the Eels but Parramatta’s inspirational captain will celebrate 100 NRL games this week (and his 95th for the Eels) as he leads his team out onto the freshly resurfaced Bankwest Stadium.
Stefano Utoikamanu is now agonisingly close to a NRL debut as he slips into 18th man. Utoikamanu might be departing Parramatta at season’s end but Arthur has consistently delivered the message publicly that the young bookend will get a chance when the time is right. With Kane Evans and Peni Terepo still sidelined and Daniel Alvaro sliding back to the extended bench, Stefano now looms as a very real chance to debut in the coming weeks.
The Cowboys could be a tricky opponent for the Eels. All the form guides and paper matchups suggest Parramatta should win this week, even without the services of Moses, but the Cowboys have rediscovered the knack of scoring points in recent weeks while the Eels are coming off a physically exhausting month of representative calibre games.
No doubt efforts will centre on mitigating the impact of Jason Taumalolo, North Queensland’s best player by eights furlongs, but the likes of Esans Marsters and Scott Drinkwater could cause mischief out wide for the Eels. Valentine Holmes has been named on the extended bench and has been given every chance by coach Paul Green to play on Friday night. Definitely a storyline to follow throughout the week.
The Cowboys have actually had the better of the running between the two teams in recent times, although games in Sydney have been few and far between with the Eels committing their annual Darwin match to the Townsvillains, sorry I mean Townsvillians. While this may be an easier game on paper, Parramatta can ill-afford to take it lightly. Every win without Moses helping steer the ship is huge for seedings in the finals and that challenge starts this week.
|Parramatta Eels||North Queensland Cowboys|
|1||Clinton Gutherson||1||Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow|
|2||Maika Sivo||2||Kyle Feldt|
|3||Michael Jennings||3||Tom Opacic|
|4||Waqa Blake||4||Esan Marsters|
|5||Blake Ferguson||5||Justin O’Neill|
|6||Dylan Brown||6||Scott Drinkwater|
|7||Jai Field||7||Jake Clifford|
|8||Reagan Campbell-Gillard||8||Josh McGuire|
|9||Reed Mahoney||9||Reece Robson|
|10||Junior Paulo||10||Jordan McLean|
|11||Shaun Lane||11||Shane Wright|
|12||Ryan Matterson||12||Coen Hess|
|13||Marata Niukore||13||Jason Taumalolo|
|14||Ray Stone||14||Ben Hampton|
|15||David Gower||15||Gavin Cooper|
|16||Oregon Kaufusi||16||Peter Hola|
|17||Brad Takairangi||17||Francis Molo|
|18||Stefano Utoikamanu||18||Reuben Cotter|
|19||Daniel Alvaro||19||Valentine Holmes|
|20||George Jennings||20||Corey Jensen|
|21||Will Smith||21||Jake Granville|