NRL Team List
Round 1, 8:00PM, Thursday 2nd March, CommBank Stadium
Nary a singe footy has been kicked in anger in the 2023 season and chaos ball is already reigning supreme. Injuries and shock returns headline the NRL season opener as the Parramatta
Heals Eels host the Melbourne Squall Storm.
Orginally this was a game that was going to by hyped up on the back of the two formidable streaks the two clubs are putting on the line. Craig Bellamy’s stunning 19-year streak of Round 1 victories looms large over Brad Arthur’s impressive 4-year uninterrupted run inside the Top 8. It was a hell of a selling point and that was before you even consider the recent run of history between the two sides.
Now though it has become a battle of attrition before a blow has been landed. The Storm enter Round 1 without the services of Ryan Papenhuyzen, Justin Olam, Tariq Sims, Tepai Moeroa, Tom Eisenhuth and Tui Kamikamica all sidelined. It isn’t as bad for the Blue & Gold but there are serious question marks over the statuses of Maika Sivo, Waqa Blake, Bailey Simonsson and Bryce Cartwright – all four of who saw zero action through the preseason trials.
Suddenly what was initially a blockbuster match-up becomes a grittier affair focusing on who can better navigate the injuries and lack of match conditioning.
Thankfully for the Eels they are fielding a full strength spine as Clinton Gutherson, Dylan Brown, Mitchell Moses and Josh Hodgson take to the field together for their first official NRL game together. Arthur has given Hodgson the biggest backing possible as well as he makes his club debut with a 4-forward bench. The crafty rake has the greenlight to go for the full 80-minutes and will be counted on to make a difference in that capacity. J’maine Hopgood belongs in this conversation as well with massive expectations starting to build up on the shoulders of the young lock forward. He will be relied upon for both the quantity and quality of his work on Thursday night.
As we expected, Matt Doorey has nailed down the starting starting edge spot while Bryce Cartwright will get first look at holding down the left edge while Shaun Lane recovers from a broken jaw. Simonsson is the real stunner here with the winger coming from the clouds to make an incredibly timely return for the home team.
Jirah Momoisea and Jack Murchie make their club debuts from the bench and will bolster the backrow wile Wiremu Greig and Makahesi Makatoa will run the second rotation for superstar bookend Junior Paulo and Reagan Campell-Gillard.
If there is a problem in the backline ahead of kickoff then it all falls upon new recruit Isaac Lumelume as cover given he is the only back listed in the reserves.
All the injuries and sudden returns have made this a surprisingly exhausting TLT but the Eels get down to business one way or the other on Thursday night. You can never count out the Storm but this is a game the Eels should put away. With the backing of a raucous home crowd at CommBank Stadium and the fires of the 2022 season burning inside, they should push past Melbourne.
Sixties and myself will be live from Jacks Bar & Grill from 6:00PM for the NRL Pre-Game Show. Naturally all are welcome to join us for what should be a massive night!
|Parramatta Eels||Melbourne Storm|
|Clinton Gutherson||1||Nick Meaney|
|Maika Sivo||2||Will Warbrick|
|Will Penisini||3||Reimis Smith|
|Waqa Blake||4||Young Tonumaipea|
|Bailey Simonsson||5||Xavier Coates|
|Dylan Brown||6||Cameron Munster|
|Mitchell Moses||7||Jahrome Hughes|
|Reagan Campbell-Gillard||8||Nelson Asofa-Solomona|
|Josh Hodgson||9||Harry Grant|
|Junior Paulo||10||Christian Welch|
|Bryce Cartwright||11||Trent Loiero|
|Matt Doorey||12||Eliesa Katoa|
|J’maine Hopgood||13||Josh King|
|Jirah Momoisea||14||Tyran Wishart|
|Jack Murchie||15||Alec MacDonald|
|Wiremu Greig||16||Chris Lewis|
|Makahesi Makatoa||17||Jordan Grant|
|Jake Arthur||18||Grant Anderson|
|Ky Rodwell||19||Bronson Garlick|
|Ofahiki Ogden||20||Sualauvi Faalogo|
|Mitch Rein||21||Joe Chan|
|Isaac Lumelume||22||Jonah Pezet|
NSW Cup Team List
Round 1, 1:00PM, Saturday 4th March, Kellyville Park
Nathan Cayless makes his coaching return to the Eels in a double-header at Kellville. The Eels have named a solid squad for Round 1 with young players featuring at key positions across the park. Jake Arthur, as expected, will be tasked with leading the team around the park but in an encouraging twist Jayden Yates has also been handed the keys to the team after jumping Mitch Rein. Brendan Hands agains shows his utility value as he partners Arthur in the halves.
Haze Dunster eases his way back towards NRL selection with a run in the NSW Cup. Ditto for Zac Cini who looks to have overcome a rib injury from the final NRL trial. Toni Mataele begins his ascent towards a NRL debut with a start on the left edge while fellow youngster Matt Komolafe will run the sideline opposite Haze.
Parramatta’s opponents will be the Canberra Raiders and there is no lack of NRL experience in their ranks with Jarrod Croker, Semi Valemei, Brad Schneider and Zac Woolford giving them plenty of steady hands in key spots.
Jersey Flegg Team List
Round 1, 11:15AM, Saturday 4th March, Kellyville Park
The first leg of the Kellyville double-header sees the Eels host the Canberra Raiders in the Jersey Flegg. There are plenty of returning faces in Craig Brennan’s team but also some newcomers – particularly in the backline. Lene Feterika (Storm), Ned Hicks (Rabbitohs) and Beau Newlands (Central Coast) are all new to the Eels and make the backline something of a mystery for myself. Turoa Williams and Arthur Miller-Stephen were both quality contributors for the Eels in 2022 and I look forward to seeing what steps they have taken this year.
Noah Reed (Knights), William Latu (Cowboys) and Lachlan Mears Crabb (Roosters) round out the newcomers in the squad. As far as returning core players go, Jock Brazel will captain the team from the backrow as he makes a long-awaited return from an ACL injury. Jontay-Junior Betham-Misa will be counted upon to lead the middles while Larry Muagututia can be a weapon off the interchange for the Blue & Gold.
There is plenty to prove in this grade for these young men and a strong first-up performance can set them up to make big in-roads early in the season.
|10||Jontay Junior Betham Misa|
|11||Jock Brazel (c)|
|18||Lachlan Mears Crabb|
How can Lumelume play given he’s not even on a development contract? Do the club think we’ll get dispensation?
I’m happy with the team and interested to see who spells Hodgson if necessary. Also hoping Carty goes well to keep him in the mix this year but I wonder if his cards have been marked.
The Eels have applied for and been granted dispensation to include Lumelume in the squad due to their injury status.
I’m picking Lumelume will be a late inclusion with Simonsson dropping off.
Interesting. With the claim that Simonsson is injured presumably?
They are very fluid lists.
Cini won’t play in Cup.
Apparently Simonsson and Waqa are 50/50.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jake in at 6 and Dyl in the centres to cover Waqa.
Lumelume on the wing.
Wow… Great news. Simmonson back from the (injury) clouds!
Bryce might just be switched to bench and Murchie to start. Bryce can cover Hodgo if required or provide Centre cover.
Wiremu…Bring it on!
This is a make it or break it year for big Emu.
He looks fit and ready to go !
My first question was going to be has Lumelume been contracted but you have already answered that.
BA would not put players on the field if he was in any doubt about their fitness. He has shown that over the seasons. However I was surprised to see the backline and Carty. May I say pleasantly surprised.
Catching the train back to the Central Coast after a loss can be a miserable experience.
However I feel that on Thursday night I will be spending the return journey catching up on all the highlights of a win.
Hey anyone know about Lachlan Blackburn. He was recruited from Penrith and I thought was meant to be quite a good talent.
Also any key players missing in Flegg? I’ve not heard of most these guys.
Yeah, interested in this one as well. Lachlan came with some big wraps and along with Jock Brazel made the Schoolboys Merit Side before signing a three year deal with us.
Plus the Niutili-Schmidt Twins. They may be injured or too old but I also can’t see Corey Fenning.
Schmidt brothers are with Norths this year
The other player is Yehya Ayache – interesting that he ended up at Penrith with Peter Taateo.
I saw Blackburn post photos training with Parra in Dec 22 on his instagram so I can only assume injured
Other than Paps, Storms biggest out is Olam.
Monster in defence and gets them on the front foot from the backfield.
Any idea what has happened to youngster Lachlan Blackburn?
The best side given the injuries. And what better game to for some of the new and fringe players selected to make their case? Underdogs but beware the wounded Eels! Just two sleeps to go.
Time to set the new standard. We are ready.
When did we become roosters 🐓 jersey flegg side is made up of other teams players . What happend to parra juniors.
I like seeing Rein on the bench in Cup I hope it’s a sign that we won’t be investing to much tine and energy in him Yates has so much more upside.
I can say that I was feeling much better at 4:01pm than I was at 3:59pm.
Brendan Hands playing 6 in cup due to Sean Russell suspension
Looks like Hodgson is going to have to play 80min. I can’t see that anyone is going to be able to sub for him at dummy half unless Arthur or Rein get the late call-up.
Hopgood came into the Penrith system as a hooker. In fact when he captained the Panthers SG ball, it was as a hooker.
I think if Hodgo needs a break, Hopgood will move to the hooker role and another forward will fill the lock role.
Agreed. Better option then Carty.
Possibly Brad might bring Jirah on for Carty and Carty move to hooker, I probably wouldn’t want hopgood to cover him as i think he will be an important link for our halves.
I’m quite surprised to not see Jake or Rein in the 14.
I may be mistaken but I’m pretty sure that Hopgood had a run at hooker in the trials for a few sets.
Only needs to be 15-20mins.