SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Shaun Lane of the Eels celebrates with teammates after scoring a try during the round two NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium on March 24, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

With under a week to go until the NRL kicks off, we lay down an extended preview for each club. Below is a look at the Eels.

Ins: Ryan Matterson (Tigers), Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Panthers), Haze Dunster, Ethan Parry (upgraded from development contracts)

Outs: Tim Mannah, Matt McIlwrick (retired), Manu Ma’u (Hull FC), Tepai Moeroa (Super Rugby), Greg Leleisiuao (Titans), Josh Hoffman (unsigned)

2019 Season

The 2019 season was always going to be a year of resurgence for the blue and golds after a horror 2019 which saw them finish in 16th position and pick up the wooden spoon.

Although they would ultimately exit the competition to the tune of a 32-0 whipping in Melbourne, 2019 can be seen as a huge success.

They finished 5th and hosted a semi final, destroying the Broncos 58-0 in front of a capacity home ground. That is what the Eels will take out of their season, rather than the way it finished.

Bankwest Stadium became an absolute fortress very quickly.

Predicted Best Player: Mitchell Moses

2020 is the year of the Eels halfback. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I have Mitch Moses winning the 2020 Dally M medal. He’s that good.

He has all the weapons in front and outside of him, a quality young number nine and a half compliments him rather than overrides him.

Moses had a brilliant 2019 and made his rep debut in his player of the tournament role at the 9s for Australia. I wouldn’t rule out a different colour rep jersey coming his way before too long.

An ace kicking game, a world class running game and the ability to put his fullback into space makes him very dangerous. Him having two best wingers in the game on the outside doesn’t hurt either.

Predicted Top Scorer: Maika Sivo

The top try scorer race is always a fun one. Truthfully it doesn’t mean too much but it’s always enjoyable. Last season a young rookie by the name of Maika Sivo won it with a final day hatty. Exciting stuff.

This season, I don’t see a close race. I think the hulking Eels winger goes absolutely ballistic in 2020 and tops the try scorers list for the second time in two seasons.

He’s had another off-season, albeit a disrupted one, and if he can stay fit and distraction free, I see no reason he can’t post another 20+ try season.

Funnily enough it’s his opposite winger who may pose the biggest threat in Blake Ferguson. They could realistically both cross for 15+. It will rain points at Bankwest.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 22: Maika Sivo of the Eels makes a break during the round 6 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium on April 22, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images)

Recruitment Impact

In a word, Huge!

Manu Ma’u exits the club after a brilliant return to the game, replaced by a younger, faster, more creative option in Ryan Matterson.

Reagan Campbell-Gillard is a monster in despite an average 2019 season. He will add an extra weapon from the bench and brings rep experience as well as his talents.

These two forwards pretty much complete one of the best rosters in the current game. Perhaps they’re a little light on out wide, however their NSW Cup side was beaten in extra time in last year’s decider suggesting there’s plenty of depth there.

2020 Final Position: 1st

I went back and forth on this but, on paper, the Eels look like the most well rounded and most talented roster in the NRL right now.

They have an elite level halfback, probably the best forward pack in the game, a very clever fullback, young yet brilliant nine and six, and the two best wingers in the code. Their bench is also outstanding and Brad Arthur is a very clever operator.

There are weaknesses, as with every side, I don’t love the centre pairing and Gutherson isn’t going to give you a Tedesco season, but Mitch Moses and co are ready to rise to the top in 2020.

There will be plenty of comments questioning my sanity and probably even more suggesting that they will choke, but I just can’t see a side, 1-17 each week winning more games than the blue and golds.

Sivo is a try scoring freak, Ferguson is going to run for 200+ metres always every week, while that forward pack is simply fantastic. If Mitch Moses gets any kind of space he’s going to lay on an insane amount of tries.

They hold the game’s most obvious home advantage right now also.

The Eels are going from wooden spooners to Minor Premiers in the space of two seasons.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Well u r putting the kiss of death on us again buddy. 😖. I agree with u on everything u say however the big thing that u n others don’t acknowledge is their 2019 average defence effort against the top 4 sides. Joey johns agrees with me when last month he said they are the Smokey to win the comp but they have to improve their defence, so I’m in good company. History n the past greats like Jack Gibson have all said defence wins the big games, not show ponies. I hope n 🙏 u r right. 👍

  2. I loved this bit

    “exit the competition to the tune of a 32-0 whipping in Melbourne”

    Seriously Dan, did you have a few sherries at lunchtime. This must be the most outrageous statement I have seen this off season
    “2020 Final Position: 1st

    I went back and forth on this but, on paper, the Eels look like the most well rounded and most talented roster in the NRL right now”

    Now I like an optimist and the Eels might make top 4 ( I say might) but I simply do not see them beating Melbourne or the Roosters or Souths come to that.

  3. I agree Rucky.
    We won’t be premiers unles we can beat Melbourne and the Roosters.
    I won’t put South’s in that list as we beat them comfortably last year.
    Our chance against the Storm will be better this year with the captain’s challenge as that will reduce a lot of what Melbourne get away with.

  4. Kev, you are dreaming. One thing this challenge will do is bust the myth that Melbourne get away with stuff.

  5. I think that the challenge won’t change anything much. Who’s deciding on , if the challenge is accepted & a ruling overturned or not? Those in the box will go out of their way to show the on field refereeing decisions as being correct.
    Even decisions like the horrendous decision to award a last second St.George try in the 9’s would probably come back as ‘close enough’! 😬

  6. Of course you would call it a myth Rucky. You are a Storm supporter after all.
    We will just have to wait and see what the captain’s challenge brings.
    Honestly I have us in the top 4 but not winning the premiership. I definitely have us finishing higher than the Storm.

  7. Parramatta in my opinion may lack spark in the centres, I also think five eighth might be vulnerable, with the two inexperienced rookies fighting it out as a problem. Ultimately the winner will be an inexperienced pivot.
    Parramatta have a really good side on paper and may just make the 2020 grand final. But I think they are one or two years away from a premiership.

  8. Good luck to Parra, they should do ok
    I have my doubts about Moses in the big games thou, he is a bit of a show pony.

    On a side note I noticed that Jealous Guy hasn’t posted on this topic.? His pathetic jealous obsession with the Champs has become embarrassing for him

  9. 8BallOfWood…
    I think Parramatta’s centres look better than your Nuggets. The Nuggets centres look to be light on without Mitchell, Smith. Mitchell was the X factor.

  10. EastOfDivide March 8, 2020 at 4:25 pm
    8BallOfWood…
    I think Parramatta’s centres look better than your Nuggets. The Nuggets centres look to be light on without Mitchell, Smith. Mitchell was the X factor

    Clown.. it may appear like that now but Not when we get Morris
    Anyway we have overachieved.. no pressure on us this year…
    Welcome home back to back champs.
    🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

  11. I just watched the great peter sterling’s preview for the year on the eels app n he as with mr johns agrees with me n that is defence has to improve this year to be a genuine threat. For gods sake let’s stop talking about irrelevant points about centres, forwards, recruitment etc it means zero unless we dramatically improve our defence. Again BA has stuck with the kiwi defence coach n he better deliver or else as we can’t waste another year of excuses. 🤬

  12. Parramatta will make the top 8
    I’ve got them finishing at 5th
    They can score points from all over the park, there defence needs to improve out of sight, at times in 2019 there defence looked paper thin, I reckon there problem is that they don’t slide in defence as one, and they have someone rushing out in defence out wide that creates a jaggered defence line, this happen in the trails, where Souths and Penrith scored a lot of tries.
    They need to slide as one and also be better in the ruck, if they can do that they will go a long way.

  13. I had nothing against the Eels up until I had this site overtaken by Eels fans writing their team up as grand finalists. Granted, I’m sure there are many pragmatic fans out there, too – but I can’t stand the ones that show no respect to how far off their team was in being the right mould to win a comp. They are a momentum team and the last momentum team that won a comp was the tigers, a long time ago.

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