There is plenty of optimism going into the 2018 NRL season for the Parramatta Eels, especially after the way they performed in 2017, where they managed to get themselves inside the top four at the end of the regular season, but have something to prove after going out in straight sets during the finals! So, will Brad Arthur’s live up to the high expectations, or will they crash down to earth like so many of their sides have after their dominant era in the 1980’s? Here is my preview of 2018 of the Eels!
2018 Starting 17 Line-Up (Predicted)
1. Clinton Gutherson
2. Jarryd Hayne
3. Michael Jennings
4. Brad Takairangi
5. Bevan French
6. Corey Norman
7. Mitchell Moses
8. Kane Evans
9. Kaysa Pritchard
10. Tim Mannah
11. Manu Ma’u
12. Tepai Moeroa
13. Nathan Brown
14. Cameron King
15. Suaia Matagi
16. Daniel Alvaro
17. Siosaia Vave
Ryan Eckford’s prediction (10th)
In 2018, the Parramatta Eels will be attempting to emulate what the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs did in 2004, and what the Melbourne Storm did in 2012 and win the premiership two years after being punished for a systematic salary cap breach.
However, the difference between Eels, and the Bulldogs and the Storm is that the Eels didn’t finish the 2016 season as the wooden spoon, while the Bulldogs and the Storm did in 2002 and 2010 respectively.
Overall, the squad is very good, with a good spine, good backline, strong forward pack, and terrific depth. However, my concern about Brad Arthur’s team is whether they can back up their performance in 2017, where they finished the regular season inside the top four, pushing the Storm in the first week of the finals, before being knocked out by the North Queensland Cowboys.
Remember that at the end of the regular season last year, the Eels only had the ninth-best points differential (+39), which was the lowest points differential from a team to finish inside the top four after the regular season since the Wests Tigers (+34) and the Gold Coast Titans (+22) in 2010, and while the Tigers maintained a top four at the end of the 2011 regular season, the Titans finished last after winning just six matches.
In my opinion, it is a big year for Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses! They need to play at a level we haven’t seen from them consistently if the Eels are to repeat their performance of last year, and if Jarryd Hayne returns to his best, then all bets are off!
However, they are more of a question mark than what most people are thinking at the moment!