KEY POINTS: 2018 NRL Draw
With the 2018 NRL Telstra Premiership draw announced this morning, Blue & Gold Members and fans can now lock in and secure the dates for the entire 2018 season.
A 25-round competition with one bye means each club plays nine other teams twice and six teams just once, so some clubs could be said to have easier draws than others.
We take a look at some of the key points following the draw announcement and what it will mean for the Blue & Gold squad.
Teams We Play Twice
Penrith Panthers, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, Wests Tigers, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Newcastle Knights, North Queensland Cowboys, South Sydney Rabbitohs and St. George Illawarra Dragons.
In the first nine rounds of the competition, the Blue & Gold will play the Panthers, Sea Eagles, Sharks and Wests Tigers twice!
Teams We Place Once
Canberra Raiders, New Zealand Warriors, Brisbane Broncos, Gold Coast Titans, Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters.
The Eels play the above teams just once in 2018, with road trips to Canberra (R6), Brisbane (R12) and Melbourne (R23).
The Eels will kick off their season against the Penrith Panthers at Pepper Stadium on Sunday 11 March for a huge afternoon of football in a Battle of the West clash.
After much was made of the rivalry by Penrith Head of Football Phil Gould in 2017, the western Sydney rivals will kick off their season clashing against each other.
The Eels will also face the Panthers at ANZ Stadium in Round 5.
The first Blue & Gold home game will be in a massive Sydney Double Header, coming up against the Sharks in Round 3. The day will also see the Rabbitohs take on the Sea Eagles before our clash against the 2016 Premiers.
On the Road
The Eels will travel to Canberra, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne and Townsville throughout the season, providing an opportunity for the Club’s Members and supporters around the country to see the Blue & Gold in action.
The draw sees three back-to-back away games, including a tough road trip against the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park in Round 23 followed by the North Queensland Cowboys at 1800SMILES Stadium in Round 24.
The Eels kick off the season with back to back away games against the Panthers and Sea Eagles with another back to back road trip against the Dragons at WIN Stadium in Round 16 followed by the Knights in Newcastle in Round 18. This clash however is split by the league wide Round 17 bye fixture.
Eels return to Eels Territory
The Eels return to Darwin for the fifth consecutive year, and will against clash with the Cowboys at Darwin’s TIO Stadium in Round 14.
This clash coincides with the Queen’s birthday long weekend in Sydney.
The Eels unfortunately have only just the one 5-day turn around, following the trip to the Eels home away from home, the Northern Territory.
The Blue & Gold run home sees five of the last seven games played out of ANZ Stadium.
The only two away games will be against the Storm and Cowboys in Rounds 23 & 24.
The Blue & Gold will once again be involved in some of the biggest clashes of the 2018 season!
As always, the Round Four Easter Monday clash against the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium will be one to lock in the diary. A week later, on Sunday afternoon, the Eels will host the Panthers at ANZ Stadium for another huge western Sydney derby.
A round 19 clash against our traditional rivals, the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium could be a monumental clash in determining the team’s late-season push whilst our last regular round game against the Sydney Roosters, the only time we face them in 2018, will be a huge way to finish off the regular season at home.
With a standalone State of Origin II weekend in 2018, it means the Blue & Gold will have just two Origin-affected rounds.
The Eels will face the Knights/Cowboys in Darwin on either side of the State of Origin I clash followed by the Knights/Bulldogs on either side of the State of Origin III clash.