The Cumberland Throw

Team List Tuesday – Historic Double Edition

The Parramatta Eels punched their ticket into this week’s Grand Final Qualifier in memorable fashion with their 40-4 dismantling of the Canberra Raiders last week. There were no signs of nerves (even if Mitchell Moses had them earlier in the day) and in front of 29,134 raucous fans the Eels delivered their most significant finals victory in just about 13 years.

The job is far from done though and one of the upstart surprises of the 2022 season now stand in their way. The North Queensland Cowboys, one of the preseason favourites for the wooden spoon (and I believe the team I actually tipped for it), have surpassed all expectations and like the Eels now stand just 80-minutes away from the big dance itself.

Brad Arthur has enjoyed a finals series relatively free of on field issues. Injuries and suspensions, or a lack thereof, have freed the Eels to play without restriction or inhibitions. That looks to have remained true this week with Tom Opacic named to his customary place at left centre. Opacic departed from the victory against the Raiders early with concern around a hamstring injury but when speaking to the media on Monday he made it clear that he would have played through the rest of the game if the contest was in the balance.

Opacic’s fitness is critical to the team on multiple fronts. Marata Niukore would do a tremendous job in the centres without a doubt but he has something special cooking with Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard in the middle at the moment. Beyond that though we should not undersell how good Opacic has been for the Blue & Gold. Not only is Tom incredibly assignment sound in any given game, there has been an intangible element of fluidity he has brought to the left edge. He simply works really, really well with Dylan Brown, Shaun Lane and Maika Sivo

The other notable roster update this week is the elevation of Bryce Cartwright to the bench over Makahesi Makatoa. Cartwright obviously gives the Eels greater positional versatility than Makatoa but I wouldn’t sleep on what he simply brings to the middle at his best. His last NRL outings this year featured some legitimately tough play in the ruck and given what is on the line this week I fully expect him to give it his all.

North Queensland feature a host of talented and breakout players this year but what really stands out is their fitness and energy. Scott Drinkwater has found a home at fullback and has built a lethal combination with Chad Townsend and Tom Dearden. Their forward pack has been lead by one of those breakout players in Reuben Cotter while Jason Taumalolo has settled into his redefined role under Todd Payten. In the backline it is hard to go past Valentine Holmes, who not only is the premier centre in the competition this year but looms as a critical sharpshooter in any kind of nail biter.

The debate has raged long and hard among both fans and the media as to what represents a successful season for the Parramatta Eels. Regardless of where you stand on that argument, the Eels enter this week much like Atlas with a world of hope and expectation on their shoulders. ‘BA’ has built (and rebuilt) this team through some of the most challenging trials and tribulations possible in our great game and this opportunity is the manifestation of all the blood, sweat and tears spilt by both the coaches and the players.

The Townsville heat and humidity will certainly be a factor on Friday night but with at most two games left in the season it is time for our boys to leave it all out on the field. Go out there and give them hell boys!

The Parramatta Eels take on the North Queensland Cowboys at 7:50PM on Friday night at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.


NRL Team List

1. Clinton Gutherson (c)
2. Maika Sivo
3. Will Penisini
4. Tom Opacic
5. Waqa Blake
6. Dylan Brown
7. Mitchell Moses
8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
9. Reed Mahoney
10. Junior Paulo
11. Shaun Lane
12. Isaiah Papali’i
13. Ryan Matterson

14. Bryce Cartwright
15. Jake Arthur
16. Oregon Kaufusi
17. Marata Niukore

18. Makahesi Makatoa
19. Bailey Simonsson
20. Nathan Brown
21. Ofahiki Ogden
22. Ky Rodwell




Talk about saving your best for last! The Parramatta Eels booked their maiden berth in the NRLW finals with one of the most raw and emotional team efforts you will see in their 28-16 victory over the Brisbane Broncos. Kennedy Cherrington’s match sealing try came with the instant team-wide realisation that they had held up their end of the bargain – all that was left was for the Roosters to do their part. Sure enough the Tricolours did exactly that and Dean Widders and his ladies remarkably find themselves in the finals with the solitary win to their name.

It marks a historic week for the club with both the NRL and NRLW fighting for a berth in their respective Grand Finals.

Tiana Penitani went down early in Round 5 with a suspected quadriceps injury but has been named to play against the Roosters in the Grand Final. Indeed, Widders has named an the same 17 players that took down the 3-time NRLW champions last week. Ashleigh Quinlan delivered her finest performance of the season on the weekend and the Eels will need her to run it back against the heavy premiership favourites.

Like their NRL cohorts, the NRLW will be on the road and travelling to Queensland. They don’t need to travel too far beyond the border though with their match scheduled to take place at Suncorp Stadium. While the Roosters were too good for them in Round 1, if our girls can bottle the best of what we saw last weekend then they will almost certainly have a red hot crack at an upset victory!

The Parramatta Eels take on the Sydney Roosters at 3:50PM on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium. 


NRLW Team List

1. Gayle Broughton
2. Zali Fay
3. Tiana Penitani
4. Rikeya Horne
5. Cassey Tohi-Hiku
6. Ashleigh Quinlan
7. Tayla Preston
8. Filomina Hanisi
9. Seli Mailangi
10. Ellie Johnston
11. Christian Pio
12. Vanessa Foliaki
13. Simaima Taufa

14. Kennedy Cherrington
15. Brooke Anderson
16. Najvada George
17. Rima Butler

18. Abbi Church
19. Ruby-Jean Kennard
20. Rueben Cherrington
21. Tess Staines
22. Brooke-Morgan Walker


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8 thoughts on “Team List Tuesday – Historic Double Edition

  1. pete

    Great read Forty20.
    Hopefully Opacic is ready to play, can’t risk if not 100%. We could see some changes come game time.
    Really excited about this game.
    Go Eels!!

    1. Shaun

      Yes. I’d love to see Opacic play but if there is any risk I hope he doesn’t play. I’m excited as well. Can’t wait till Friday!

      1. sixties

        If Opa was a chance for this, then you’d assume he’d be sweet in a week. So I guess you wouldn’t risk losing him mid game and throwing your bench out of whack, and you’d also have him fine for the next week if we progress.

  2. Ian

    If Opacic doesn’t make it, you’d move Waqa back to centre and bring Simonson in on the wing…leave Niukore in his current role as starting lock where he is proving so effective.

  3. adz4parra

    Living in North Qld, the weather gods have not smiled on us for this one. The build up to the Wet Season has ramped up in the last week and even as I type at 930pm at night, it’s 25° and 80+% humidity.

    Despite that, you’d think these kinds of conditions shouldn’t be too much of a difference maker for full time professional athletes, if we can respect the ball and get at least an even break of possession. You notice playing touch football up here that ball handling becomes a real challenge once the sweat starts pouring out, and that will apply to both teams, not just the unacclimatised ones.

    Brad really has to utilise his bench better if we are to be any chance. Oddly, I reckon Makatoa is actually better suited to these conditions than other bench options as he has a good motor and his output is high when he does get on. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t end up back on the bench if Opacic is unavailable.

    Cowboys fans are cocky they’ll run over us with their small forward perpetual motion game. Reuben Cotter runs like he’s been fired out of a cannon but he’s playing prop and he’s considerably smaller than any of our forwards. They actually get bigger when their bench is on so we are going to have to make the most the size mismatch while it lasts by beating them at the power game. It’s where our greatest strength lies.

    Val Holmes was interviewed today on the ABC and said they were preparing to take the game to the 80th minute so I think we need to land some punches early to make them play football.

    1. adz4parra

      I’ll add that Marata at centre has some serious pros and cons. He’ll help with carries out of the backfield, which is something we are going to need from our back five to help take some of the load off the middles. But he’d likely be up against Holmes and over the 80 minutes in sapping conditions, he’ll likely be burned for pace at some point.

      Simonsson isn’t going to have the same issues with being outpaced but he’s not as good a one on one tackler. He does have a strong carry out of the backfield but he and Waqa on the same side would be heart in your mouth stuff every time the Cowboys spread it their way.

      Hopefully Opacic is fit, but if he’s not 100% I wouldn’t be playing him. We’ll need whoever plays centre to do a lot of grunt work. It’s a conundrum, but whoever gets selected will need to play a blinder.

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