05/03/2024

The Parramatta Eels getting ready for their second season (Image: Parramatta Eels Website, Design by Will Cuckson)

The Eels have a lot of talent developing and upside that could see Parramatta make a run at the finals in the future. For this season, they will look to be around the middle of the ladder with big upside.

Going into the 2021 season, they were talked about as a team with the potential to make the finals. However, with the injury to their star fullback and lack of experience on the team, they fell short while they showed a lot of promise for the future.

The Squad

Ins: Ashleigh Quinlan, Brooke Anderson, Brooke Walker (AFLW), Casey Tohi-Hiku, Gayle Broughton, Losana Lutu, Luisa Yaranamua, Najvada George, Rima Butler, Ruby-Jean Kennard, Rueben Cherrington, Tayla Preston, Vanessa Foliaki, Zali Fay 

Outs: Nita Maynard (Broncos), Emily Curtain (Titans), Maddie Sutton (unsigned), Botille Vette-Welsh (injured, out for the entire 2022 season), Fatafehi Hanisi (injured, out for the entire 2022 season)

Track Watch

Besides Botille Vette-Welsh and Fatafehi Hanisi being injured and out for the 2022 season, expect changes to the starting lineup in the forward pack positions and possibly some players experimenting in new positions.

Losana Lutu may be asked to play five-eighth or even halfback depending on Parramatta’s assessment of former AFLW player, Brooke Walker in the off-season. Expect the excitement to be around Parramatta’s future in the NRLW with the young talent being recruited.

The fan favourites such as Kennedy Cherrington are expected to play their role and bring a lot of value regardless if they are starting or on the bench.

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What to expect

Parramatta has designed a good foundation for finding homegrown talent in the Tarsha Gale competition, where a lot of the girls wearing the Blue and Gold in first grade have played together.

The Eels have signed 13 rookies this off-season, continuing their ideal structuring of the list. With the playing group not having changed much from their inaugural season, the Eels have a lot of continuity compared to other teams in the competition.

With a forward pack with ball-playing potential, led by their dummy-half play, the Eels are a team that wants to attack the line and speed up the game, putting their backline players in open space and in quick windows of only scoring.

With this approach to the game, the NRLW Eels love trying to take advantage of any team not playing a fast line-speed defence. Only missing out on the finals due to point differential, we can expect this team to have learned a lot about their lack of success on the offensive end of the game.  

The biggest concerns and what to expect for the Eels are finding a rhythm and figuring out the new five-eighth and halfback combination. With Maddie Sutton not being signed by Parramatta, this team if they want to make finals must figure the new combination out quickly.

With their marquee fullback Vette-Welsh out due to an injury that occurred last season, the Eels find themselves with a new spine entirely as they lost their dummy half Nita Maynard in the off-season to the Brisbane Broncos and Emily Curtain, who plays in the halves, having signed with the Titans.

With Rueben Cherrington showing promise as dummy-half in the U’19 State of Origin, expect Parramatta to focus on her development for the remainder of 2022. With Dean Widders having used Vette-Welsh out the back in set plays in scoring opportunities, expect a similar strategy to be used when they are near their opposition’s try-line.

It’s a big year for

Lutu and Cherrington are young players yet to make their debut. Both showcased their potential in the U’19s State of Origin in Lutu has a unique offensive game that can incorporate cut-out and short ball passes and a flashy style of footy that not many halves players in the NRLW have at their disposal.

Cherrington showed her ability to play system, structured footy as a dummy half, and with her older sister Kennedy in the front-row, Parramatta could play an aggressive, toward-the-line play that centres around the forward pack playing a physical game with the ability to move the ball.

Round 1 Team

  1. Gayle Broughton
  2. Tess Staines
  3. Tiana Penitani
  4. Abbi Church
  5. Rikeya Horne
  6. Brooke Walker
  7. Losana Lutu
  8. Filomina Hanisi 
  9. Seli Mailangi
  10. Ellie Johnston
  11. Christian Pio
  12. Vanessa Foliaki
  13. Simaima Taufa

Interchange: 

  1. Kennedy Cherrington
  2. Brooke Anderson
  3. Najvada George
  4. Rima Butler 

Ladder Range

Fifth-Sixth Position

Expect Parramatta to be missing the finals again, finishing in the last two positions. With a new spine combination and the difficulty they had on the offensive end last season, the Eels have a lot of work to do and a small window to make their off-season training effective in the 2022 season.

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