Parramatta go into this clash desperate bounce back from a humiliating loss to Manly and stop a four-game skid that has their premiership hopes on life support.
The Eels have been a fixture in the top four all season but find themselves in sixth spot and while they already have a playoff spot wrapped up they will represent little more than cannon fodder for the Storm, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles and Roosters come finals time if they can't rediscover their early-season form.
And they will have to engineer that turnaround without influential back-rower Ryan Matterson who is expected to spend time on the sideline after being sent off in the 56-10 loss to Manly.
And even though the Cowboys are on a nine-game losing streak and out of finals calculations but Parramatta would be wise not to think they are over the line before kick-off.
The Cowboys are down on troops but coach Todd Payten is heartened by the performances of the slew of rookies who have been pressed into service.
Match: Eels v Cowboys
Round 23 -
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Eels: The Eels are 1-17 with no late changes.
Oregon Kaufusi (concussion) will play after missing last week's loss to the Sea Eagles.
Centre Tom Opacic (ribs) will miss a couple of weeks with Will Penisini and Haze Dunster promoted from the extended bench to start this week.
Sean Russell and Jake Arthur were omitted 24 hours before the match. Keegan Hipgrave was the last man cut an hour before kick-off and Ray Stone is 18th man.
The Eels have been outscored 124-22 in their past three games.
Cowboys: In late changes an hour before kick-off Jake Granville has gone to the bench, Ben Hampton into the centres and Laitia Moceidreke comes in on the wing for his debut. Mitch Dunn has been promoted to the starting side with Coen Hess reverting to the bench. Tom Gilbert dropped out on game day and Connelly Lemuelu is 18th man.
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow trained on Friday and is a late inclusion after a lengthy lay-off due to appendicitis. He will play fullback with Val Holmes on the wing.
Star lock Jason Taumalolo has failed in his bid to return from a broken hand while winger Kyle Feldt (head knock) has also been ruled out.
Fullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton GuthersonFullback for Cowboys is number 19 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
Winger for Eels is number 2 Maika SivoWinger for Cowboys is number 1 Valentine Holmes
Centre for Eels is number 3 Will PenisiniCentre for Cowboys is number 3 Daejarn Asi
Centre for Eels is number 4 Waqa BlakeCentre for Cowboys is number 5 Ben Hampton
Winger for Eels is number 5 Haze DunsterWinger for Cowboys is number 21 Laitia Moceidreke
Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Dylan BrownFive-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Scott Drinkwater
Halfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell MosesHalfback for Cowboys is number 7 Tom Dearden
Prop for Eels is number 8 Isaiah Papali'iProp for Cowboys is number 8 Francis Molo
Hooker for Eels is number 9 Joey LussickHooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
Prop for Eels is number 10 Junior PauloProp for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLean
2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Shaun Lane2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Ben Condon
2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Marata Niukore2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Heilum Luki
Lock for Eels is number 13 Nathan BrownLock for Cowboys is number 16 Mitchell Dunn
Interchange for Eels is number 14 Will SmithInterchange for Cowboys is number 4 Jake Granville
Interchange for Eels is number 15 Bryce CartwrightInterchange for Cowboys is number 13 Coen Hess
Interchange for Eels is number 16 Oregon KaufusiInterchange for Cowboys is number 14 Reuben Cotter
Interchange for Eels is number 17 Makahesi MakatoaInterchange for Cowboys is number 15 Jeremiah Nanai
Reserve for Eels is number 18 Ray StoneReserve for Cowboys is number 22 Connelly Lemuelu
- Referee: Ashley Klein
- Touch Judge: Drew Oultram
- Touch Judge: Jon Stone
- Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall
Mitch Moses v Tom Dearden: The Eels halfback has struggled to recapture the form that saw him picked by the Blues for Origin III.
Moses had little impact against Manly and must do better if the Eels are to turn things around. Dearden faces challenges of his own, the former Broncos wunderkind has failed to notch a win since round three when he came off the bench against the Bulldogs for Brisbane and was singled out for his poor kicking in the loss to Wests Tigers.
Parramatta lead the NRL for offloads with North Queensland languishing in 16th place. It could be that ability to pop a pass which secures a desperately needed two points and triggers a change in fortunes.
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