The Dyldam Parramatta Eels take on the Wests Tigers on Saturday, July 30, at ANZ Stadium in Round 21 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
Faced with depleted stocks in the outside backs in recent weeks, Blue and Gold Head Coach Brad Arthur had been forced to name second-rower Manu Ma’u in the centres for the third week running, only to have the Eels enforcer suspended for one week at the NRL judiciary.
Ma’u’s absence will see John Folau come back into the first grade side, who ran out for the Wentworthville Magpies side in Round 20, his first appearance after being sidelined for five weeks with a fractured hand.
Parramatta remains without Semi Radradra (medial ligament), and Michael Jennings (hamstring), but welcome Vai Toutai back to the wing from a knee injury in place of Bureta Faraimo.
Faraimo sustained a fracture to his cheekbone and jaw in the Eels’ Round 20 loss to the Titans, and will miss 6-8 weeks of competition and require surgery.
With finals out of reach, the Blue and Gold will be looking to play for pride against the Wests Tigers, who are fresh from a 25-12 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons.
Jason Taylor has again omitted hooker Robbie Farah from his NRL line-up, but halves Mitch Moses and Luke Brooks and fullback James Tedesco were in striking attacking form in their last appearance.
The 10th-placed Tigers are still well and truly in the hunt for a finals berth, and Taylor has moved Dene Halatau into dummy-half, with prop Tim Grant also expected to start from the interchange bench despite a concussion picked up in Round 20.
Earlier in 2016, the Eels posted an 8-0 victory over the Wests Tigers on Easter Monday, in a tough but scrappy encounter.
Kick off is at 5.30pm on Saturday, July 30. The match is an Eels home game, with Wests Tigers ticketed Members receiving reciprocal entry to ANZ Stadium.
Match Details: Dyldam Parramatta Eels v Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, July 30. Kick off at 5.30pm.
Televised: Fox Sports – Live Coverage from 4.55pm.
The History: Played 31; Parramatta 18, Wests Tigers 13, drawn 1.
The Eels have the edge head-to-head wins, with 18 wins from 31 clashes between the two sides. The Blue and Gold also hold an advantage at ANZ stadium, winning 7 of their last 9 clashes with the Wests Tigers at the venue.
Parramatta Eels Squad:
1. Michael Gordon 2. Vai Toutai 3. Manu Ma’u* 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Bevan French 6.Clinton Gutherson 7. Jeff Robson 8. Danny Wicks 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Tim Mannah 11.Ken Edwards 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Beau Scott
Interchange: 14. Rory O'Brien 15. Peni Terepo 16. David Gower 17. Daniel Alvaro
* Unavailable through suspension (1 week)
West Tigers squad:
1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Tim Simona 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Jordan Rankin 6. Mitchell Moses 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Dene Halatau 10. Sauaso Sue 11. Josh Aloiai 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Elijah Taylor
Interchange: 14. Kyle Lovett 15. Ava Seumanufagai 16. Tim Grant 17. Joel Edwards
Match Officials: Referees: Henry Perenara, Chris Butler; Sideline Officials: Jason Walsh, Kasey Badger; Video Referees: Luke Patten, Ben Galea, Jason Robinson