Nathan Smith previews the Parramatta Eels as they host the Gold Coast Titans for round one.
Parramatta Eels Vs Gold Coast Titans
Commbank Stadium, Parramatta
Sunday March 13, 4:05pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Sean Russell 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Waqa Blake 5. Bailey Simonsson 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. Makahesi Makatoa 15. Oregon Kaufusi 16. Ray Stone 17. Jakob Arthur 18. Nathan Brown 19. Bryce Cartwright 20. Mitch Rein 21. Tom Opacic 22. Hayze Perham
Sean Russell will have the first crack at making the vacant wing spot his after Haze Dunster’s season-ending injury. Furthermore, the Eels will see Reed Mahoney back in the NRL after a season-ending injury last year. Interestingly, Jakob Arthur has been given a bench spot to play a utility role for the side. Otherwise, the Eels line-up is largely like to the one that ran around last year.Embed from Getty Images
Titans: 1. Jayden Campbell 2. Phillip Sami 3. Brian Kelly 4. Patrick Herbert 5. Corey Thompson 6. Alexander Brimson 7. Toby Sexton 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Erin Clark 10. Isaac Liu 11. David Fifita 12. Beau Fermor 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 14. Will Smith 15. Sam Lisone 16. Jaimin Jolliffe 17. Kevin Proctor 18. Jarrod Wallace 19. Tanah Boyd 20. Herman Ese’ese 21. Esan Marsters 22. Sam McIntyre
AJ Brimson returns from an injury suffered last year to start in the halves. New recruit Will Smith will come off of the bench as a utility and Roosters prop Isaac Liu will make his debut for the club. Coach Justin Holbrook has made a bold call in leaving Jarrod Wallace out for the opening round.
Referee: Grant Atkins
This round one encounter is an opportunity for both sides to assess where they’re at early on in the season. Of course, it’s also an opportunity to snag two points. Both sides would have come out of the trials reasonably happy, despite the Titans missing one due to weather, and will be keen to see how it all translates this season.
Amongst a strong roster, Dylan Brown shapes as one of the Eels’ key players. After what he considered an ‘average’ season in 2021, Brown’s trial form has been superb. He found space, made opposition defence look silly and was generally all over the field doing anything and everything. Still young, Brown could become an x-factor for the Eels if he begins to show his potential on a consistent basis.
There’s no second-guessing who the Titans’ key player is. The freakish David Fifita, who showed glimpses of his brilliance in the NRL All Stars game, will cause problems for the Eels’ edge defence all afternoon. In wet weather, it’s particularly hard to make the tackles stick. Do not be surprised to see Fifita swatting our defenders to score out wide.
Commbank Stadium has seen limited football over the past twelve months, so a big crowd should be expected regardless of some adverse weather. The Eels have shown they are capable of wet weather footy during the trials and will be keen to start the season strongly. However, the Titans will still be hurting after their missed chance to take the game against the Rooster in last years’ finals series and determined to let that drive them throughout this year’s season. The Eels would be a big scalp to get their 2022 campaign underway.Embed from Getty Images
The Eels have won their last five matches against the Titans. In fact, the Titans’ last win against the Eels was way back in 2017, when they won 26-14. However, despite this, the Titans lead the overall head-to-head with eleven wins to ten. The Titans have never played at CommBank, where the Eels traditionally have a good record.
Parramatta Eels 13+
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