The Cumberland Throw

Team List Tuesday – Return Of The (Lion) King Edition

NRL Team List


As far as high stakes go this early in the season, a home opener against the reigning premiers is almost certainly right up there. That is the scenario this Thursday night for the Parramatta Eels as the Melbourne Storm roll into town. There is no doubt that Brad Arthur would have had this game circled the moment the 2021 draw dropped as the Storm are one of the fundamental measuring sticks of form in the NRL.

The Eels enter this game on the back of an effort that was quintessentially ‘a game of two halves’ against the Brisbane Broncos. Their 24-16 victory may have finished in an emphatic manner but a repeat of the lackadaisical first half against Melbourne will see the game well and truly over before the 20th minute of play. The standards set in the second half against the Broncos have to be upheld and exceeded this week because we know that Craig Bellamy gives no quarter to sloppy opposition.

Marata Niukore is back for the Round 2 blockbuster, having completed a suspension carrying over from last season. The return of Parramatta’s superstar interchange forward could not be any more timely given the calibre of the opponent this week and it gives fans a first real look at bench triumvirate of Niukore, Isaiah Papali’i and Oregon Kaufusi. Winning, or at the very least contesting, the middle will have a huge influence on the outcome this week and Arthur will be leaning heavily on both his starting and interchange middles against one of the NRL’s most consistent packs on Thursday.

Keegan Hipgrave is the unfortunate casualty to make way for Marata with ‘BA’ favouring the utility value of Will Smith over a fourth bench forward, The starting roster remains unchanged although Shaun Lane will be looking to bounce back from a shocker last week otherwise pressure will start to mount on the rangy edge forward. Ray Stone makes his return from the injury ward on the extended bench where is joined by Haze Dunster and Joey Lussick as well as Hipgrave.

The Storm are fielding an unchanged line-up from the top seventeen that defeated the Rabbitohs. Cameron Munster, Brandon Smith and Ryan Papenhuyzen will command plenty of attention in the lead-up to this contest but the Storm are perhaps the single most organised and efficient roster in the competition. They will be ready to exploit any perceived weaknesses the Eels displayed in Round 1 so the Eels will need to do their homework on themselves as much as their opposition this week.


1. Clinton Gutherson ©
2. Maika Sivo
3. Tom Opacic
4. Waqa Blake
5. Blake Ferguson
6. Dylan Brown
7. Mitchell Moses
8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
9. Reed Mahoney
10. Junior Paulo
11. Shaun Lane
12. Ryan Matterson
13. Nathan Brown
14. Oregon Kaufusi
15. Isaiah Papali’i
16. Will Smith
17. Marata Niukore
18. Keegan Hipgrave
19. Haze Dunster
20. Ray Stone
21. Joey Lussick


Injury Ward


Bryce Cartwright – Jaw (Round 4-6)

Michael Oldfield – Knee (Round 4-6)


NSW Cup Team List


A rare first round bye in the NSW Cup and Jersey Flegg means that we get our first look at these teams this week. The Eels are clearly prioritising the development of their next wave of first-grade talent with the starting team featuring prospects eligible for the SG Ball! With a backline that includes one NRL veteran in Tim Lafai alongside boom rookies like Sean Russell, Solomone Naiduki, Will Penisini and Jakob Arthur (and the seasoned veteran of one finals game in Haze Dunster) there is plenty of reason to be excited for 2021 as a vehicle for their development.

To temper that excitement it should also be cautioned that a team as young as this will likely face some tough losses over the course of the season. Their Round 2 opponents are the Canberra Raiders, whom they will host at Ringrose Park on Saturday evening at 5:30PM.

The Raiders have named an imposing roster with plenty of NRL experience across the park. Caleb Aekins, Semi Valemi, Emre Guler, Tom Starling and Corey Horsburgh all have the ability to dominate in the NSW Cup and a win this week would be a huge check mark for the young Eels.


1. Sean Russell

2. Solomone Naiduki

3. Will Penisini

4. Tim Lafai

5. Haze Dunster

6. Jordan Rankin ©

7. Jakob Arthur

8. Kurt Dillon

9. Joey Lussick

10. Dave Hollis

11. Ray Stone

12. Keegan Hipgrave

13. Makahesi Makatoa

14. Nathaniel Roache

15. Eli El Zakhem

16. Grant Taulafo

17. Toa Mataáfa

18. Charbel Tasipale


Jersey Flegg Team List


The Jersey Flegg will play the curtain raiser to the NSW Cup on Saturday afternoon as they kick off against the St George Illawarra Dragons at 3:30PM. With plenty of eligible players promoted to the NSW Cup, Saturday represents a significant test of the Flegg’s depth. Even so, there is plenty of recognisable talent in the Round 1 line-up. Matt Komolafe, Sam Loizou and Aitasi James all featured in the NRL preseason while the likes of Kyle Schneider and Jayden Yates give the blue & gold reliable cornerstone players in the ruck.

As we all well know, possession tends to be king in these grades and if the Flegg can limit their errors they will be highly competitive regardless of who is available for selection. This also represents a massive opportunity for a whole slew of players to jump out of the shadows of Russel, Arthur and company. This is now their team and their window to make the club stand to attention. Let’s hope it starts this week!


1. Tevita Massima

2. Matt Komolafe

3. Sam Loizou

4. Jayden Skinner

5. Marli Townsend

6. Clayton Faulalo

7. Nick Tilburg

8. Aitasi James

9. Kyle Schneider

10. Jack Colovatti

11. Oliver Clements

12. Peni Tohi

13. Jayden Yates

14. Ethan Le Blanc

15. Mark Tepu-Smith

16. Valance Harris

17. David Tui



Arrive early at Eels Lane in Parramatta Leagues to catch The Cumberland Throw live from 4pm. Our podcast, The Tip Sheet, will kick off the pre-match entertainment, featuring special guests Joey Grima (Eels Elite Pathways Coaching Director), Mary K (Ladies Who League founder) and the legendary Brett Kenny. 

There’ll also be music as well as a balloonist and jumping castle for the kids.

We look forward to saying g’day to you there.


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Jpe Briffa

Thanks John i will give it plenty of thought about going. both teams look strong


See you at Parra Leagues Joe.


Interesting seeing Stone playing backrow possibly on the edge I haven’t seen alot of him on the edge but I think he will be suited to it I remember a 20s game where he carved up on the edge.

As for Shaun Lane being selected well who knows why? These selections are why BA gets so much negativity

Colin Hussey

I like having Stone playing in the 2nd row as it may bring out the abilities that he had in his early days as a damaging runner and harder tackler when representing NSW in a QLD Vse NSW interstate rep match that NSW won and Stone was impressive with his hard hits and hard running no one got past him and he scored a try with a hard run. his long hair back then may have helped with his weight as well.

While I did not mind him at DH, he is a better edge forward for mine.


He’s trained on the edge during the preseason


Imagine the team selections if we, the fans, picked the teams. 😁

Colin Hussey

I’m looking forward to the game against the Storm, but its also a nervous look forward game. This is a very important game for the eels as they are facing the comps top team after their big win last week. I think if we get a fair rub from the Ref we should do ok, problem is that I really have concerns with one of our least looked forward to ref in the game, along with the review ref in the same style as each other. I have tipped an eels win by 6, with not a great amount of… Read more »


I’m not sure if Hipgrave had an injury because jesh he looked slow in chasing Milford when they broke. He was very busy in defense and attack but I don’t see him as a back rower as to where he was substituting.

Mr controversy aka rev

Well done BA on picking Lane. Everyone deserves a 2nd chance. Prove ppl wrong show them you can play well. Funny how we Eel fans are so down hearted after a win. On our 1st game performance yes it wasn’t flash what do ppl expect grand final standard’s after the 1st game. Look at last year started like a house on fire only to finish like rubbish. On the line up surely we didn’t expect changes except for marata. Forty n sixties. I’ve changed my name because ppl won’t agree with everything i have to say but 1 thing i… Read more »


He’s had more than 1 chance his form hasn’t been great for some time.

Don’t worry I’ve been called out as not being a true fan despite 15years of paid membership because im a realist some people expect blind loyalty


Offside and Rev, we all support in different ways, have different views on different players. The only thing we expect here is to not get personal about criticisms. Quite simple really.


I agree that Lane deserves another chance. If he is mediocre again, I suggest he gets dropped directly to NSW Cup to regain some confidence and form.

Mr controversy aka rev

I agree to a point but he needs to maintain his combination with Moses down that right side edge. Maybe it’s form but if he has a blinder then what


Really looking forward to this game, my heart my say otherwise. It’ll be a true test of where we are and we’re heading.

Same could be said with the “reserve” grade game depth wise


Massive test for a young group of reggies.

Trouser Eel

Has Clinton Gutherson copyrighted his name now?


Ha, it’s the next step for player merch.


Like it forty; thank you for in depth write up. For me we need to be an 80 min team and compete against these type of top 4 teams, and win!


Yeah not really sure who would replace Lane until Cartright gets back anyway.Hopefully he has a blinder.The other selection I’m looking forward to is Nathanial Roache at 14 for Reggies,hopefully comes through unscathed.


Welcome back to Marata, want to see him get good field time over a continuous period. I don’t think he’s had the opportunity to show where he’s at.


I still think he is better suited as a starting 13 with Brown coming off the bench.


Not a bad idea offside.


Marata plays hard and fast, a bit Storm-style. Brown imposes himself as play develops, both are valuable. Maybe Lane to bench, whatever I think Brad Fittler showed how NOT to use Nathan Brown.

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