The Dyldam Parramatta Eels are traveling to Alice Springs this week as part of their trip to the Northern Territory, culminating in a pre-season trial against the Wests Tigers on Friday night.
The Eels are looking forward to heading back to Alice Springs as they continue their relationship and community work in the Northern Territory as part of the four-year partnership with the Northern Territory Government that commenced last year.
Taking the NRL Community Carnival to Alice Springs, the Blue and Gold will be visiting more than 20 schools and hospitals in the Alice Springs region. The focus will be on the #NRLWellbeing message, promoting the positive impacts healthy eating, nutrition and exercise have on mental health.
“It’s great to be heading back to the Territory for another pre-season, and I know our team and coaching staff are looking forward to playing here and visiting the community,” Eels CEO Scott Seward said.
“Our staff have already held a number of development and coaching camps here in the NT this year, and we’re looking forward to the continued support from everyone in Eels Territory."
Assistant Coach Peter Gentle was also looking forward to returning to the Northern Territory, “It is good to be back in the NT!” he said.
“We had a couple of trips up there last year and the boys are looking forward to it, as the staff are, and we have been made very welcome up there so hopefully we can put on decent show!”
The Eels will take a 33-man squad to the NT, with 24 of the players expected to be named in the side that will take on the Wests Tigers. The remaining players will lead the team in the community leg for the duration of the trip.
“The Wests Tigers have named a pretty strong line up so it should be a decent hit out for both teams,” Gentle said.
“Our S&C staff and our medical staff have taken a lot of precautions in that area (heat and climate conditions), but as far as us coaches, we just want to get them out there and playing. The Tigers have to play in the conditions too so it doesn’t really matter.”
The team named is set to include a large forward pack, with the boys ready to start their road to round one with a bang.
“We are excited about it. We have had a very long pre-season and it’s been pretty intense and there is a lot of things we have put in place we would like to see on Friday night,” said Gentle.
“There is plenty of competition there (amongst the forward pack) for a position so we are really looking forward to seeing how our big boys go. We certainly have some firepower in the forwards this year so we are looking forward to it,” he added.
“The new faces have fit in well. The pack especially has some new faces but they complement each other with what we have got and there has been some little new things we have thrown at them but they are going good.”
NT Minister for Sport and Recreation, Gary Higgins, says the Eels’ $4 million, four-year partnership to bring a pre-season game to Alice Springs and a NRL Telstra premiership game to Darwin is flourishing.
“The Territory, and Alice Springs in particular, has embraced the Eels as our team in the NRL, and I am very excited to welcome them back to their second home,” Mr Higgins said.
The Blue and Gold are ready for their first official trial of 2015, with the team focused on their upcoming matches.
“The Nines is gone and we finished with that pretty much when we left Auckland. The eyes went straight on to looking at these trials ahead,” said Gentle.
“They are going to be very competitive and you can’t really treat them as trials” he added.
The Dyldam Parramatta Eels squad heading to Alice Springs:
Trial Game Squad
Isaac De Gois
Zach Dockar Clay
Additional Traveling Squad
Wests Tigers Trial Squad
Robbie Farah (capt.), Nathan Brown, Jack Buchanan, Manaia Cherrington, Josh Drinkwater, Keith Galloway, Dene Halatau, Delouise Hoeter, Chris Lawrence, Lamar Liolevave, Kyle Lovett, Shannon McDonnell, Mitchell Moses, Kevin Naiqama, Pat Richards, Brenden Santi, Ava Seumanufagai, Tim Simona, Curtis Sironen, Sauaso Sue, Martin Taupau, Aaron Woods.