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Parramatta's quest to bring a wealth of western Sydney talent home for the NRL Telstra Women's Premiership was a huge success as the team prepares for their first season in the competition.

The Eels are one of three sides set to enter the NRLW in 2022 and have built a squad destined to make an immediate impact. 

Led by the likes of local products, Jillaroos stars Simaima Taufa and Botille Vette-Welsh, the Eels have recruited a mix of players from rival NRLW clubs and the Harvey Norman NSW Premiership.

Taufa and Vette-Welsh are two of five former Roosters who have switched to Parramatta while six have arrived from the Dragons. 

NSW representatives Tiana Penitani and Kennedy Cherrington are also major signings for the blue and gold as the team looks to set a standard under inaugural coach Dean Widders.

Everything you need to know about the NRLW

Widders has a wealth of coaching experience in the women's game, recently in charge of South Sydney in the Harvey Norman NSW Premiership.

A total of 13 players are in line for making their NRLW debut including Fatafehi Hanisi, the younger sister of NSW prop Filomina, and Fiji Bulikula captain Sereana Naitokatoka.

Naitokatoka and Studdon will have competition in the halves with Emily Curtain also part of the squad and vying for a position.

Eels young gun Mareva Swann is tackled at training
Eels young gun Mareva Swann is tackled at training ©Parramatta Eels

Possible best 17

1. Botille Vette-Welsh 2. Tess Staines 3. Jocephy Daniels 4. Tiana Penitani 5. Rikeya Horne 6. Sereana Naitokatoka 7. Maddie Studdon 8. Filomina Hanisi 9. Nita Maynard 10. Kennedy Cherrington 11. Ellie Johnston 12. Jade Etherden 13. Simaima Taufa. Interchange: 14. Therese Aiton 15. Fatafehi Hanisi 16. Jamie-Anne Wright 17. Christine Pauli.

Kennedy Cherrington will be a forward leader for the new Eels outfit
Kennedy Cherrington will be a forward leader for the new Eels outfit ©Parramatta Eels

Biggest strength

The side's projected spine is strong and complements their starting forward pack which includes the Hanisi sisters and Jillaroos forward Simaima Taufa. 

Botille Vette-Welsh is one of the best fullbacks in the game while Maddie Studdon and Nita Maynard will enter their fourth seasons in the NRLW and have previously played well as a combination.

Kiwi Ferns international Nita Maynard  brings experience to the Eels squad
Kiwi Ferns international Nita Maynard brings experience to the Eels squad ©Parramatta Eels

Biggest question mark

The side is lacking experienced back-rowers compared to other NRLW sides with edge defence a possible area for rivals to target.

There are only three recognised back-rowers in the squad, although some who play in the middle are capable of shifting wide.

Ellie Johnston had a taste of the NRLW in 2020 for the Dragons and giving her early ball on the edge is key if Parramatta wants to use her effectively.

Widders can't wait to pull Eels colours back on again

Draw snapshot

The Eels will launch their NRLW season against the Knights in the final game of a triple-header at McDonald Jones Stadium on February 27.

Their history-making home game moment will come in round three when they host the Titans at CommBank Stadium before the men's fixture on March 13.

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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