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2021 Parramatta Eels Team Preview

As the National Rugby League season draws closer, we look at how the Parramatta Eels will go in 2021.

Parramatta had a strong run in 2020; however, they continued their poor finals footy run in recent years with two straight losses. In 2021, they’ll be looking to prove they can be competitive during finals time.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

NRL Squad

Waqa Blake, Dylan Brown, Nathan Brown, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Bryce Cartwright, Haze Dunster, Blake Ferguson, Clint Gutherson, Keegan Hipgrave, David Hollis, Samuel Hughes, Michael Jennings, Oregon Kaufusi, Shaun Lane, Joey Lussick, Reed Mahoney, Ryan Matterson, Mitchell Moses, Marata Niukore, Michael Oldfield, Tom Opacic, Isaiah Papali’i, Junior Paulo, Jordan Rankin, Maika Sivo, Ray Stone, Will Smith.

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Signings

Bryce Cartwright (Gold Coast Titans, 2021), Keegan Hipgrave (Gold Coast Titans, 2022), David Hollis (2021), Joey Lussick (Salford Red Devils, 2021), Michael Oldfield (Canberra Raiders, 2021), Top Opacic (North Queensland Cowboys, 2021), Isaiah Papali’i (New Zealand Warriors, 2022), Nathaniel Roache (New Zealand Warriors, 2021).

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Departures

Daniel Alvaro (St. George Illawarra Dragons), Andrew Davey (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), Rhys Davies (released), Kane Evans (New Zealand Warriors), Jai Field (Wigan Warriors), David Gower (retired), Watson Heleta (released), George Jennings (Melbourne Storm), Ethan Parry (released), Jaeman Salmon (Penrith Panthers), Kyle Schneider (released), Brad Takairangi (Hull Kingston Rovers), Peni Terepo (released), Stefano Utoikamanu (Wests Tigers).

First Five

Brisbane Broncos (A), Melbourne Storm (H), Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (H), Wests Tigers (A), St George Illawarra Dragons (H).

WHAT TO EXPECT

Expect more of the same from Parramatta’s 2021 campaign, with a strong winning percentage at home and a resilient attitude when playing away. The big question mark will be over what they can do come finals time: going out in two losses again may spell the end for Brad Arthur’s time at the club.

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Mitchell Moses likely feels the burden of expectation growing with every passing year. The Eels have been known for their cursed halfback position, which hasn’t seen a player truly take a hold since the days of Peter Sterling. Despite flashes of brilliance over the past few years, Moses has been inconsistent, with his all-important missed conversion during last year’s semi-final highlighting his lack of attention to detail. Moses will have a big year, because quite frankly, he needs to.

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Parramatta hasn’t signed many players of note. Arthur has gone for either younger players, or those who weren’t regularly making their previous club’s starting side, to bolster the Eels’ ranks. Many appear to be more for depth than anything else, though the one signing that has raised eyebrows is Bryce Cartwright. Controversial and inconsistent, his career went from making the Blues’ training squad to barely making the Titans’ run-on side. He’s been signed for one year on little money, and thus has everything to prove. It could either pay off and be a winning gamble for the Eels, or otherwise be a wasted spot in their squad for 2021.

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Parramatta start the year off on the road against last year’s wooden spooners the Brisbane Broncos, before playing at Bankwest for three games and an Easter Monday away clash against the Tigers at Stadium Australia. That said, it’s not an easy draw: they play the premiers (the Storm) in round two, the ever-consistent Cronulla Sharks in round three, and then the unpredictable Wests Tigers in round four, and the St George Illawarra Dragons in round five. Playing in Parramatta for three weeks in the first month is an advantage; however, there are a few tough games, notably the Storm encounter, that will give the Eels an idea of where they stand this year.

FEARLESS PREDICTIONS

Top Tryscorer – Maika Sivo.

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Top Pointscorer – Mitchell Moses.

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Club Player of the Year – Clinton Gutherson.

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