The Dyldam Parramatta Eels will again take part in some of the NRL’s biggest games next season, with the 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership draw officially released today.
The Blue and Gold will play nine games at Parramatta’s Pirtek Stadium, two at ANZ Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park and one game at TIO Stadium in Darwin.
The 2015 season kicks off at Pirtek Stadium on Friday, March 6 against traditional rivals, the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, seeing new Eels recruit Anthony Watmough line up against his former side for the first time.
“I think we have a balanced draw with some good opportunities for our Members and fans this year,” Dyldam Parramatta Eels CEO Scott Seward said.
“The media have said it’s all equal first in difficulty so we certainly see that as a challenge but it’s nice to see some blockbuster games at Pirtek Stadium especially kicking off the season against Manly and then Souths in Round Four.”
“It’s a very tough draw for us but our expectation is that if you want to win something, you have to beat everyone.”
Round 22 will also see the Blue and Gold return to the Northern Territory, playing the Penrith Panthers at TIO Stadium in Darwin.
“We are really excited to go back to Darwin, our year two of our partnership with the Northern Territory Government," Seward said.
"It was an exciting win for us last year against the Raiders, so the NRL scheduling Penrith to go there and be our opponent is something that is a little bit different that we weren’t expecting."
"But we are looking forward to getting another 10,000 at TIO Stadium and hopefully another win in front of our second biggest supporter base.”
Seward understands the importance that the Blue and Gold Army have to the team, and will be looking for another strong year of attendance after the club set the 2014 regular season attendance record of 50,668 against the Wests Tigers in a Easter clash.
“An absolutely full Pirtek Stadium is undoubtedly one of the greatest advantages our club has. The more we can do that, the more opportunity we have to win.”
“From a team perspective, trying to play against 20,000 Blue and Gold supporters in the stands is a pretty daunting experience and you would like to think we would be starting the game 6-0 up just because of the crowd we have. Hopefully we can get that, not just once or twice next year, but all nine times.”
The Blue and Gold will see a fair bit of travel towards the back half of the season, and Seward confirms that it is something the Eels will continue to monitor.
“It’s something we have to monitor really closely from a physical performance and coaching perspective. It’s now two years in a row that we have been drawn to play every interstate game and travel to New Zealand so it is something we are conscious of and working with the NRL on,” Seward said.
“But you have to win everywhere, home and away, and from a travel perspective it is going to be tough but something we have to expect and get on with.”
With the Blue and Gold Army passing 11,500 Members this morning, Seward couldn't speak highly enough of the importance that they have at the Eels.
“Our Membership base is the most important thing we have,” Seward said.
“It is our opportunity to grow, it is why our club exists. We exist to win premierships and we exist because we have a community full of Members and fans.”
“For us to already have 11,500 at this time of year is an amazing achievement as a club but we certainly want to push through the 20,000 we had last year and aim higher for 25,000,” Seward added.