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Mary Kaye returns in 2015 and in her first installment, she talks about the feeling of Parramatta's first game of a new NRL season! You can find more of her work at ladieswholeague.com
For me, there is almost no greater feeling than the feeling I get on the day of Parramatta's first game of a new NRL season. There is always such a tremendous feeling of anticipation. A feeling of a fresh start. A feeling that anything is possible for the season ahead.
I returned home to Pirtek Stadium on Friday night with a sense of excitement. Footy was finally back and our boys did not disappoint.
There were so many things which stood out in our absolutely dominant performance against Manly. The strength of our forward pack led by Anthony Watmough and Tepai Moeroa, the pure attacking ability of Semi Radradra, how animated, talkative and full of life the team were but most of all, what a tremendous atmosphere the Parramatta Eels fans create at Pirtek Stadium. The feeling at the Stadium was electric and I have no doubt that Pirtek Stadium will remain a fortress for us this year.
Many people have Parramatta written off this year and do not have us making the top 8. This is because, more than any other year, Parramatta are an unknown beast. Having lost Jarryd Hayne over the off-season, Parramatta have a very new look in 2015 and many experts are unsure as to how we will perform.
One game does not make a season - but Friday night showed what a capable attacking force Parramatta has the ability to be in 2015. Friday night showed that we have the ability to be an attacking force without Jarryd Hayne. If players like Corey Norman, Chris Sandow, Will Hopoate and Nathan Peats continue to play to their potential and rise to the fill the gap that Jarryd Hayne has left, the sky is the limit for the Eels in 2015.
This week's game against the Bulldogs is a massive test. The Bulldogs are one of our most formidable opponents and after a disappointing loss to Penrith on the weekend, the Bulldogs will be sniffing for their first win of the season and will not be an easy opposition. It is also a massive test because many of you will recall that we started the 2014 season with a big win over the Warriors only to be thumped by the Roosters the week after. This week is Parramatta's opportunity to show that we will be a force to be reckoned with in 2015 and that we can play strong, exciting and consistent football on a week to week basis.
There is one big change to the line-up this weekend. With Junior Paulo set to miss 9 weeks for a dangerous throw, Danny Wicks finally has been given an opportunity. This will be Danny's first game in 5 years and it will be in blue and gold. Similar to Manu Ma'u who has taken the opportunity which Parramatta has given him to make dramatic changes to his life, I am truly hoping that the same will happen for Danny Wicks. Fingers crossed I will have enough support to have begun a Danny Wicks fan club by the end of the year.
Parramatta Eels fans - let's paint ANZ Stadium blue and gold on Friday night. I'm hoping we can take home the two points.