The Cumberland Throw

The NRLW Preview – Round 1, 2022: Eels vs Roosters

We get our second taste of NRLW action in 2022 with the actual 2022 premiership race launching this weekend. That means another tilt at the title for the Parramatta Eels and another class of exciting players to follow as they carve out their own stories and legends across two hell-for-leather months of footy. Keen fans will spy plenty of familiar faces in the Round 1 team list but so too have the Eels recruited some genuinely exciting new talent as coach Dean Widders looks to ignite an offensive juggernaut.

Veteran lock forward Simaima Taufa will reprise her role as team captain but joining her as a co-captain for upcoming campaign is Tiana Penitani. With both new recruits and plenty of young talent spread across the team, it falls upon the shoulders of these two women to be the torchbearers for the coming weeks and months.

With all that said, I am fired up for what lies ahead for the Blue & Gold in the NRLW. Even considering the unknowns, even pondering the question marks hovering over our team I am buzzing for opening day tomorrow and what lies beyond that. This is a fun unit. The vibes surrounding them are not merely good – they are immaculate. Seriously, check out the mic’d up segment with newcomer Gayle Broughton below. And gee whiz do I have some more things to say about Gayle in this blog.

There is a compelling blend of experience and youth, of talent and energy and even outright x-factor in this team. Listeners of The Tip Sheet will know I have drawn parallels to the jump our Tarsha Gale squad made in 2022 as recruitment and development steered them in a new direction. It feels like our NRLW team is ready to make a similar leap forwards.

With all that said, the assignment in Round 1 is as big a task as our girls could have asked for with the reigning premiers coming to town. The Sydney Roosters, the first ever team to dethrone the mighty Brisbane Broncos in the NRLW, will line up from across our ladies on Saturday afternoon and they look a truly formidable opponent. It will be a huge test for the Eels but one that I truly believe they are excited for. So let’s jump into it!

 

Game Info

Date: Saturday August 20, 2022

Venue: CommBank Stadium, Parramatta

Kick Off: 1:00 PM, AEST

Referee: Belinda Sharpe

Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall

Broadcast: Fox League, Kayo

 

The Teams

 

Parramatta Eels Sydney Roosters
1 Gayle Broughton 1 Samantha Bremner
Tess Staines Leianne Tufuga
3 Tiana Penitani 3 Jessica Sergis
4 Isabelle Kelly
Rikeya Horne 5 Jayme Fressard
6 Brooke-Morgan Walker 6 Zahara Temara
7 Racene McGregor
Filomina Hanisi 8 Sarah Togatuki
9 Seli Mailangi 9 Destiny Brill
10 Mya Hill-Moana
Christian Pio 11 Shaniah Power
12 Vanessa Foliaki 12 Olivia Kernick
13 Keilee Joseph
Kennedy Cherrington 14 Jocelyn Kelleher
15 Brooke Anderson 15 Shawden Burton
16 Kalosipani Hopoate
Rima Butler 17 Otesa Pule
18 Ruby-Jean Kennard 18 Joeli Morris
19 Samantha Economos

 

The Parramatta Eels

 

As I mentioned at the top of the preview there are plenty of familiar faces in this line up. Across the backline Tiana Penitani, Abbi Church and Rikeya Horne were regular contributors for the Blue & Gold earlier this year while Tess Staines was part of the same group. In the forwards Simaima Taufa is rejoined by Filomina Hanisi, Ellie Johnston, Christian Pio and Kennedy Cherrington. These women, alongside Seli Mailangi, form the experienced core of the team who will be tasked with guiding and orienting their new team-mates.

Speaking of those new teammates it is hard to start anywhere else other than the spine where the Eels welcome a trio of new playmakers – each with their own fascinating story. Brooke-Morgan Walker will become a tricode footy star when she dons the Blue & Gold tomorrow after earning caps with the Australian Rugby Union 7s team and the Carlton Football Club. Losana Lutu, who completely epitomises the paradigm shift towards youth and energy, not only represented NSW in the Under 19s Origin this year in a dominant 22-6 victory but also helped spearhead the Wests Tigers to premiership glory in the Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership.

And finally there is Gayle Broughton, who again I will leave for later because there is every chance to she is about to torch the entire competition. Individually each of these women are exceptional athletes and players – the question will be who quickly can they coalesce as playmaking group, as the rugby league spine.

But wait, there is more! Vanessa Foliaki takes on her former club and adds plenty of grit and gumption to the backrow. Brooke Anderson and Navjanda George were both starters at lock forward in the aforementioned NSW Women’s Premiership – albeit on opposite sides of the field. Anderson comes with a Rugby 7s background, leaning once more into the idea that the Eels are keen for more speed and skill this season. George on the other hand is a multi-sport athlete that has her origins in basketball. Finally we have Rima Butler, who has impressed in the short preseason, comes with a strong Western Sydney pedigree as a cornerstone player for the Wentworthville Magpies.

There will be plenty to dissect and discuss once we see them on the field but for now these are your Parramatta Eels for Round 1 of the NRLW!

 

Sydney Roosters

 

If my maths is correct (and there is a good chance I am just a moron) the Sydney Roosters have ten returning players from their triumphant premiership run earlier this year who have been named to play tomorrow. You could almost cut off the write up there because that tells you exactly what you need to know. The Tricolours are a truly formidable team and even without considering their status as reigning premiers, they are almost certainly the team to beat after the huge shake-up of the most recent free agency period.

Leianne Tufuga, Jessica Sergis, Isabelle Kelly, Zahara Temara, Raecene McGregor, Sarah Togatuki, Mya Hill-Moana and Olivia Kernick are returning starters from grand final day while the acquisition of Samantha Bremner means they lose little at fullback as Corbin Baxter steps away from the game temporarily to become a mother.

Despite the star-studded backline, the real strength of the Roosters lies in their dominant forward pack – a unit that will strenuously test the Eels on Saturday. Togatuki and Hill-Moana are a fearsome prop forward pairing and their ability to take over a game should not be slept on.

 

Key Players

 

Gayle Broughton

I am not sure the NRLW is ready for Gayle Broughton. If a defence gives her an inch – she will take the full mile. A cursory glance at the highlights package above is all you need to know that she will bring elite footwork, short area burst and top-end speed to the paddock. Just those three things would be enough to make her one of the elite players in the NRLW but I think there could be even more to her game.

Her ability to not just make plays with the ball in hand but read the game a step ahead of everyone else on the field could potentially make her the most dangerous player in the premiership.

I am impossibly hyped to see how her debut pans out tomorrow and if it goes anywhere near expectation I think she will be a fan favourite in the blink of an eye.

 

Filomina Hanisi

One of the youngest members of the forward, Filomina Hanisi enjoyed a borderline meteoric rise in the belated 2021 season. She started that season as an inexperienced bench forward and finished it knocking on the door for NSW Blues selection. Filomina was a shining light for the Eels and now looms as a mainstay for their pack ahead the massive clash against the Roosters.

She locks horns with two of the best in Sarah Togatuki and Mya Hill-Moana and that battle could very well go a long way towards deciding the game.

 

Seli Mailangi

Mailangi is the only returning member for the Eels when it comes to the play-making corp and as such plenty of responsibility falls on to her shoulders this season. Defensively she will be tasked to lead the line speed for the Eels along with her captain Simaima Taufa while on the offensive side of the ball her focus has to be on providing crisp, clean service for her other playmakers.

As with Filomina above, her ability to mitigate the impact of the Tricolour middles will be pivotal on Saturday.

 

 

 

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Shaun

Nice to see Ellie Johnston make the run on team. I thought she was very good last season and made an impact when she was on. But really excited to see what Gayle Broughton will do. Go Parra!

Anonymous

Stand by Shaun!

pete

Excellent read Forty20.
We have some real talent in the squad. Looking forward to seeing how we go this season.

pete

Shame about the result.
Once again we see the Roosters club with no salary cap and can just sign anyone they want.

Spark

Great watching the girls.
I thought Penitani was poor. She missed some crucial tackles and did not find the ball. She wasn’t that great last season either. I think the team needs a lot lot more from one of our marquee players.
Abby church, whilst willing was monstered out wide.
Gayle Broughton is a cut above any player in the side.

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