14/04/2024

Blake Ferguson is set for a big 2021. Picture: Parramatta

Can the men in blue and gold bounce back after a disappointing 2020 season?

After a disappointing finals series in 2020, the Parramatta Eels will be looking to silence the doubters and prove that they can be a real premiership contender. 

What to expect: 

Captain Clint Gutherson was one vote away from winning the prestigious Dally M medal at the end of the 2020 season so the blue and gold faithful should expect a repeat effort. The man crowned “The King” is the foundation of the club – no doubt. Without him, they never seem quite as strong, as fast or as threatening.

In 2021, the fans would be hoping to see Mitchell Moses rise to his captain’s level. Perhaps he was carrying the calf injury that he sustained during the Covid suspension for the entire season but nevertheless, Moses struggled to reach the potential he has always promised.

He struggled to take the line and often looked lost with ball in hand, especially during the finals series. With a target on his back now, he needs to rise to the occasion. If Parramatta are ever going to win a premiership, they need more than just Clint Gutherson to take it to the next level. 

The biggest loss for the team is Michael Jennings, who left a void in a backline that appeared to struggle last year.

Maika Sivo and Blake Ferguson never seemed to find the spark that they lit in 2019. The duo only shared 19 tries between the two of them – in comparison to the 32 tries scored the year before. When the attack disintegrates so drastically, defensive errors are highlighted even more – which they were. They’d desperately be looking to improve this. 

Despite a few cracks in the structure, this team can absolutely still threaten the competition. With their current squad, led by a dominant forward pack, you can never truly write them off. 

Parramatta key match up:

Round 2 against the reigning premiers will show fans exactly what they can expect from their boys from Parramatta this year. Their first home game of the season, with the opposition definitely missing Harry Grant and Dale Finucane as of right now, should definitely see the Eels showing all of their cards in effort to show what they’ve got to offer.

There will be plenty of nervous eyes on Jennings’ replacement Tom Opacic and plenty of eager eyes on Isaiah Papali’i who is looking to help grow the forwards even more. 

Parramatta Squad

Blake Ferguson, Bryce Cartwright, Clinton Gutherson, David Hollis, Dylan Brown, Haze Dunster, Isaiah Papali’, Joey Lussick, Jordan Rankin, Junior Paulo, Keegan Hipgrave, Maika Sivo, Marata Niukore, Michael Jennings*, Michael Oldfield, Mitchell Moses, Nathan Brown, Oregon Kaufusi, Raymond Stone, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Reed Mahoney, Ryan Matterson, Thomas Opacic, Will Penisini, Waqa Blake, Will Smith

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