To kick off the year, Mary Kaye looks ahead to our season opener against the Brisbane Broncos at Pirtek Stadium. You can catch up on Mary Kaye's blogs at Ladies who League here
It's time to go home.
It's been a long off season, Parramatta Eels fans, but come Thursday night the gates will open to our beloved Pirtek Stadium and it will be time to bring in Season 2016. It's time to pull out that jersey, don the blue and gold face paint and pick a favourite player for this year, because Season 2016 has arrived.
This is one of my favourite weeks of the year, that is the week before a new NRL season. The season is completely fresh. No mistakes have been made. Our squad is fit and hungry. There is so much hope, possibility and expectation. Anything could happen in season 2016. Now is the time to dream - it might be us holding up that trophy come October. Imagine the possibilities.
I say this every year, but I have a really good feeling about season 2016 and there are a number of reasons this is the case.
Let's talk recruitment because for me, there is no Club that has recruited as well over the 2015 season and off season as our Parramatta Eels. There are plenty of new faces at the Club this year and we have some tremendous talent joining the roster. Names like Michael Jennings, Beau Scott, Mitch Cornish, Clinton Gutherson, Michael Gordon and of course, our new on-field captain, Kieran Foran (who is proof that everyone looks better in blue and gold). Now is as good a time as any to welcome our new recruits to the Club and to wish them all the best for the upcoming season. Be sure to give them a big cheer on Thursday night - I am hoping they have as much pride in the jersey as we do.
How could I go any further without mentioning the performance at the Auckland Nines. I was lucky enough to be there and to see our men in blue and gold hold up that trophy at the conclusion of the tournament was very special. I remember standing next to my brother, hoarse from the cheering over the 2 days and crying into my scarf. How special was that? I could not imagine a better way to start the season off than with a signal to the other Clubs that the Parramatta Eels are here to play football in 2016.
Then there is the squad. I can't wait to see Semi Radradra back in action, screaming down that sideline. The thought of Corey Norman and Kieran Foran playing together makes my spine tingle. The strength of Junior Paulo and Tim Mannah leading the forward pack will certainly be a sight to behold. Youngsters like Bevan French waiting for their first opportunity. And then there are the other fan favourites - Tepai Moeroa, Kenny Edwards, David Gower, Isaac de Gois and Ryan Morgan all waiting to be returned home with a cheer by their home crowd.
We are so lucky to have a home game week 1. I am hopeful that Pirtek Stadium is full - let's make it a sell-out. I want a sea of blue and gold. While you are at the game, be sure to also keep an eye out for volunteers who will be collecting funds for those affected by Cyclone Winston. Our very own Semi Radradra will be donating his boots from the Round and a proportion of all 'Semi-Trailer' t-shirts will go towards the appeal, so get behind it!
Finally, whilst the 3rd March is special because it is the night Parramatta begin their hunt for Premiership glory, it also happens to be my 27th birthday. So a big thank you to the Parramatta Eels and the NRL for scheduling the season opener on my birthday. I'm hopeful that the Parramatta Eels can give me my final birthday present and a selfie to celebrate a victory.
I'm looking forward to sharing the season with all of you. I can't wait to go home - I now officially pronounce the off season to be over.
P.S. I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome the newest members of the Eels family. Big love and congratulations to Isaac and Renee de Gois on their wedding and the birth of their beautiful baby girl, Elliana, Anthony and Elle Watmough on the safe arrival of Jagger Rose and David and Erika Gower on the birth of Keira Mae. It looks like the next ladies who league will all be running around in Parramatta Eels jerseys very soon!