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Here is all you need to know about the Parramatta Eels ahead of the 2022 Telstra Premiership season.

The Lowdown

Overview

Depth at hooker and in the outside backs shape as key issues for the Eels, who still have 12 months until a host of stars begin to filter out of the club.

Possible best 17

1. Clint Gutherson, 2. Maika Sivo, 3. Will Penisini, 4. Waqa Blake, 5. Bailey Simonsson, 6. Dylan Brown, 7. Mitch Moses, 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 9. Reed Mahoney, 10. Junior Paulo, 11. Isaiah Papali'i, 12. Ryan Matterson, 13. Nathan Brown, 14. Marata Niukore, 15. Shaun Lane, 16. Oregon Kaufusi, 17. Ray Stone/Bryce Cartwright

Key changes

Blake Ferguson, Joey Lussick, Will Smith and Keegan Hipgrave are the major outs for the Eels this year. Bailey Simonsson, who has joined the Eels from Canberra, will be vying with fellow Kiwi Haze Dunster to take over full time on the flank from Ferguson. Forward depth is still great for now but will be tested in 2023 with some key names set to depart. With Lussick and Smith signing elsewhere and the luckless Nathaniel Roache off the books, the bench utility spot could go to Stone or Cartwright. 

Health check

Maika Sivo (ACL) is a huge out to start the season with Simonsson, Dunster or Sean Russell the likely replacement ahead of Solomone Naiduki. Reed Mahoney (shoulder) and Nathan Brown (hip/ankle) should be ok for round one but Marata Niukore (suspension) will have to wait until round two.

Biggest question mark

With Smith and Lussick leaving, the back-up dummy half role will be filled by former Dragons, Panthers and Titans hooker Mitch Rein. Halves depth is shaky as well with only Arthur's son Jakob providing obvious cover to Moses and Brown. However, coach Brad Arthur has all summer to work out what happens any time the first-choice 1-6-7-9 players are off the field or missing games. 

Opening month

A Sunday afternoon CommBank clash against the Titans gets things underway for the Eels before trips to Cronulla then Melbourne then back home to face the Dragons. They will likely start favourites in three of those games and even the Storm should hold no fear after last year's efforts, meaning Brad Arthur's men could keep their recent habit of starting fast alive.

Toughest stretch

The period leading Origin I will test Brad Arthur's men. They get the Panthers, Roosters, Sea Eagles and Raiders from rounds nine to 12, facing Penrith in their backyard, the Roosters at Suncorp for Magic Round and travelling to the nation's capital to meet the Green Machine. Only the Manly clash takes place at CommBank, and that's a ground that holds few fears for the Sea Eagles of late.

Make it count

Directly prior to the above tough road is a period where it is vital for the Eels to bank some wins. Starting with a round four home game against the Dragons, they face the Titans (away), the Tigers at CommBank on Easter Monday, the Knights (away) then take a home game against the Cowboys to Darwin. There's a strong chance they start favourites in all those games.

NRL Fantasy: Eels 2022 prices

Isaiah Papali'i: MID/EDG, $782,000
Reed Mahoney: HOK, $780,000
Ryan Matterson: EDG, $683,000
Clinton Gutherson: WFB, $645,000
Dylan Brown: HLF, $641,000
Mitchell Moses: HLF, $631,000
Nathan Brown: MID, $582,000
Junior Paulo: MID, $569,000
Shaun Lane: EDG, $563,000
Mitch Rein: HOK, $552,000
Reagan Campbell-Gillard: MID, $536,000
Makahesi Makatoa: MID, $500,000
Maika Sivo: WFB, $465,000
Jakob Arthur: HLF, $450,000
Marata Niukore: MID/CTR, $431,000
Waqa Blake: CTR, $430,000
Tom Opacic: CTR, $420,000
Bryce Cartwright: EDG, $407,000
Bailey Simonsson: WFB, $356,000
Will Penisini: CTR, $350,000
Oregon Kaufusi: MID, $346,000
Haze Dunster: WFB, $298,000
Ray Stone: MID, $288,000
Sean Russell: WFB, $260,000
Wiremu Greig: MID, $240,000
Hayze Perham: HLF/CTR, $240,000
David Hollis: MID, $220,000
Solomone Naiduki: CTR, $220,000

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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