NRL Team List
Round 26, 7:50PM Thursday 24th August, BlueBet Stadium
2023 ends with a trip to Penrith for the embattled Eels with naught but a sliver of pride to play for on Thursday night. Brad Arthur has included Shaun Lane in his final line-up for the season as Parramatta’s resident tall-timber returns from his third serious injury of the year – this time a dislocated elbow. Lane will play from the interchange bench against the Penrith Panthers will Arthur choosing to start Ryan Matterson on the left edge. That of course frees J’maine Hopgood up to return to his specialist role at lock.
Brendan Hands drops out of the team in the resultant reshuffle and will pilot the NSW Cup team in the halves this week instead. Andrew Davey looks to have been shutdown for the final game of the year as he navigates a concussion sustained against the Broncos back in Round 24. That is the extent of the changes for the Eels this week and really there isn’t too much to preview. Given how the team has approached recent games with their season in the balance, there is a pretty reasonable chance that the Panthers take the Eels to task this week.
Obviously I want to see legitimate fight from our boys but honestly the major priority this week is simply to escape the game without any serious injuries. Adding any kind of long-term injury to the insult of this season and creating an early setback for 2024 would honestly just be soul crushing.
As for the Panthers, well they are looking like they are surging almost perfectly into the finals. Perhaps it could be argued they don’t look quite as formidable as they have in the last two years but they are a serious chance at joining the 1981-83 Eels in the spectacular achievement that is a three-peat.
|Parramatta Eels||Penrith Panthers|
|Clinton Gutherson||1||Dylan Edwards|
|Maika Sivo||2||Sunia Turuva|
|Will Penisini||3||Tyrone Peachey|
|Bailey Simonsson||4||Stephen Crichton|
|Sean Russell||5||Brian To’o|
|Daejarn Asi||6||Jahrome Luai|
|Dylan Brown||7||Nathan Cleary|
|Reagan Campbell-Gillard||8||Moses Leota|
|Joey Lussick||9||Jack Cogger|
|Junior Paulo||10||James Fisher-Harris|
|Ryan Matterson||11||Zac Hosking|
|Bryce Cartwright||12||Liam Martin|
|J’maine Hopgood||13||Isaah Yeo|
|Luca Moretti||14||Soni Luke|
|Shaun Lane||15||Lindsay Smith|
|Wiremu Greig||16||Spencer Leniu|
|Joe Ofanhengaue||17||Luke Garner|
|Makahesi Makatoa||18||Jaeman Salmon|
|Brendan Hands||19||Luke Sommerton|
|Waqa Blake||20||Jesse McLean|
|Ky Rodwell||21||Tom Jenkins|
|Ofahiki Ogden||22||Matthew Eisenhuth|
NRLW Team List
Round 6, 11:05AM Saturday 26th August, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium
The Eels are hunting for an elusive first victory in their 2023 season but their efforts in recent weeks have the team trending upwards in just about all categories. This week they ‘host’ the North Queensland Cowboys in a game billed in the absolutely loosest terms as a home fixture. In the obviously Western Sydney trappings of Nestrata Jubilee Stadium, Dean Widders and his ever-so-slightly-tweaked team will look to knock over one of the newest franchises in the competition.
The backline remains unchanged but the pack is boosted by the return of Jade Fonua as she overcomes a broken hand sustained in Round 1 against the Tigers. She takes over at lock forward which in turns sees boom rookie Tyla Amiatu move into the starting front row. NSW Under 19s rep Noaria Kapua will make her NRLW debut from the interchange bench with young backrower joining the Eels from the all-conquering Canterbury Bulldogs Tarsha Gale squad. She gives the Blue & Gold another goal-kicking option as well in the unfortunate event of anything happening to Rachael Pearson.
|Parramatta Eels||North Queensland Cowboys|
|Abbi Church||1||Francesca Goldthorp|
|Zali Fay||2||Vitalina Naikore|
|Kimberley Hunt||3||Jasmine Peters|
|Cassey Tohi-Hiku||4||Shellie Long|
|Monique Donovan||5||Krystal Blackwell|
|Pihuka Berryman-Duff||6||Tahlulah Tillett|
|Rachael Pearson||7||Kirra Dibb|
|Talesha O’Neill||8||Tallisha Harden|
|Rueben Cherrington||9||Emma Manzelmann|
|Tyla Amiatu||10||Makenzie Weale|
|Amelia Mafi||11||Bree Chester|
|Mahalia Murphy||12||Libby Surha|
|Jade Fonua||13||Tiana Raftstrand-Smith|
|Capri Paekau||14||Jetaya Faifua|
|Noaria Kapua||15||Jessikah Reeves|
|Shannon Muru||16||China Polata|
|Nakia Davis-Welsh||17||April Ngatunpuna|
|Kyra Simon||18||Sareka Mooka|
|Ruby-Jean Kennard-Ellis||19||Mia Middleton|
|Madeline Jones||20||Sera Koroi|
|Lindsay Tui||21||Merewalesi Rokouono|
|Rosemarie Beckett||22||Essay Banu|
NSW Cup Team List
Round 26, 2:00PM Saturday 26th August, BlueBet Stadium
Jordan Rankin is hanging up his boots and signs off with a game against one of Parramatta’s closest rivals. He will captain the team for one final game on Saturday as he joins Brendan Hands in the halves. Rankin has been a fantastic leader for the club, both on and off the field, and will begin the earnest transition into a career in coaching after the full-time whistle on the weekend.
Like Shaun Lane in the NRL, Zac Cini returns from injury in time to play one last game for the year. He immediately takes over in the centres while the bench is loaded up with young players in the form of Jacob Davis, Lachlan Mears-Crabbe and Lachlan Blackburn as well of course as the big hyphen himself in Jontay-Junior Betham-Misa.
The Eels have found a minor vein of form in recent weeks and they have the chance to play spoilers for the Panthers this week. Penrith enter the round in sixth place as they battle the Blacktown Worker Sea Eagles for the final berth in the Top 5.
Jersey Flegg Team List
Round 26, 12:30PM Saturday 26th August, BlueBet Stadium
The lone team left in finals contention this year is our Flegg squad but even they need a dose of luck this week in order to book a spot in the finals. While they take on the Penrith Panthers in Penrith this week and need a win as the first part of the equation, simultaneously (quite literally, both games kick off at 12:30PM) the Canberra Raiders and Melbourne will be playing with the Eels needing the Raiders to spring an upset.
Parramatta are boosted by the returns of Joshua Lynn, Matthew Arthur, Charlie Guymer and Sam Tuivaiti from a stint in the NSW Cup but have lost Richard Penisini to injury while Jock Brazel looks to be missing in action as well this week. Blaize Talagi takes over at centre with Lynn returning to the halves as the Blue & Gold gear up for an assault on the postseason.
It is brutal to have to rely on another result but as always they will reflect on plenty of winnable games earlier this season. If they do have the stars align properly between the two results, this is a team that could make more than a bit of noise in the finals so cross your fingers!