The Parramatta Eels take on the top of the table St. George Illawarra Dragons at WIN Stadium on Thursday 28 June in Round 16 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
Blue & Gold Head Coach Brad Arthur has named a 23 man squad for the clash, welcoming back Mitch Moses to the halves alongside Corey Norman whilst Will Smith returns from a hamstring injury on the bench in place of a suspended Reed Mahoney.
Arthur has named a reshuffled backline with Gutherson at fullback and Bevan French on the win in place of Josh Hoffman who drops back to the reserves.
Siosaia Vave, who will play his 100th NRL game, has been named to start at prop alongside Daniel Alvaro, with Marata Niukore coming into the back row in place of an injured Manu Ma’u ruled out with a cheekbone injury.
Smith, Tim Mannah (c), David Gower, Peni Terepo have been named on the bench whilst Kirisome Auva’a, Kane Evans, Jaeman Salmon, Suaia Matagi, Josh Hoffman and Kaysa Pritchard form the reserves.
For the Dragons, Head Coach Paul McGregor has to juggle an outfit that features plenty of representative stars potentially backing up from last week’s action.
Tyson Frizell at this stage is the only player not named to back up with lock forward Jack De Belin named despite copping another knock to his hip during Origin.
Jacob Host stars in the back row with Luciano Leilua called onto the bench. Leeson Ah Mau has also been named on the bench despite a very short turnaround following a delayed flight home from Denver following the England v New Zealand clash.
On form, the Dragons enter this clash on top of the ladder and two back to back wins over the past fortnight whilst the Eels are coming off a loss to the Rabbitohs. However, historically, the Eels hold a slight head to head advantage over the Red V, with 17 wins from 33 clashes, including the last six clashes between these two sides.
In fact, the Dragons have not beaten the Eels since 2013.
A fortnight ago, the Eels gave the Rabbitohs a scare when they started the clash strongly to build an early 14-6 lead before their right edge defence faltered and the Rabbitohs clicked into gear in the second half to secure the victory.
A 3-12 win-loss record this year, the Eels only have pride to play for over the final third of the season and the Dragons won’t want to be complacent against a team with nothing to lose.
This Thursday night clash will kick off at 7:50pm. Click through to grab your tickets!
Match Details: St. George Illawarra Dragons v Parramatta Eels, Thursday 7:50pm at WIN Stadium, Round 16.
Head-to-head: Played 33; Eels 17 wins, Dragons 14 wins, 2 draws
Matches at venue: Played 6; Dragons 3 wins, Eels 2 wins, 1 draw
Previous result: Eels won 24-10 at ANZ Stadium in round 15, 2017
Points per game: Dragons 25.1; Eels 14.5
Points conceded per game: Dragons 15.4; Eels 23.6
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League
Live Radio: Triple M, ABC, CrocMedia
Dragons: 1 Matt Dufty, 2 Nene Macdonald, 3 Euan Aitken, 4 Tim Lafai, 5 Kurt Mann, 6 Gareth Widdop (c), 7 Ben Hunt, 8 James Graham, 9 Cameron McInnes, 10 Paul Vaughan, 11 Jacob Host, 12 Tariq Sims, 13 Jack De Belin
Interchange: 14 Jeremy Latimore, 15 Jason Nightingale, 16 Leeson Ah Mau, 17 Luciano Leilua 18 Blake Lawrie, 19 Reece Robson, 20 Jai Field, 21 Hame Sele, 22 Darren Nicholls, 23 Patrick Herbert
Eels: 1 Clint Gutherson (c), 2 Bevan French, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Jarryd Hayne, 5 George Jennings, 6 Mitchell Moses, 7 Corey Norman, 8 Daniel Alvaro, 9 Cameron King, 10 Siosaia Vave, 11 Marata Niukore, 12 Brad Takairangi, 13 Nathan Brown
Interchange: 14 Will Smith, 15 Tim Mannah (c), 16 David Gower, 17 Peni Terepo 8 Kirisome Auva'a, 19 Kane Evans, 20 Jaeman Salmon, 21 Suaia Matagi 22. Josh Hoffman 23. Kaysa Pritchard
Note: The Dragons and the Eels have received an ‘additional player exemption’ due to the high representative selection in their squad