The NSWRL has cast its eye over the 12 teams who will take part in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup in 2022, with the opening round to kick off on Saturday 12 March. The state’s premier competition remains a valuable pathway for higher honours with 52 players going on last season to play in the NRL. Today, the (Parramatta Eels).
Last year saw the Parramatta Eels finish in third position with nine wins and four losses before the season was abandoned due to COVID-19 restrictions.
With the perfect mix of youth and experience, the Eels managed to bring through seven The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup graduates into the NRL, further demonstrating the depth at the club with the NRL side managing to finish fifth.
The NSW Cup graduates from 2021 included Jakob Arthur, Sean Russell, Will Penisini, Ky Rodwell, Wiremu Greig, Samuel Loizou and Makahesi Makatoa.
The Eels fielded a young squad in 2021 and according to coach Ryan Carr, they proved they were more than up to the challenge.
“We had a young team last year so it was really pleasing to see those guys get some experience and do well at NSW Cup level,” Carr said.
“A lot of them were playing their first year in Cup so it was good to see them at that second-tier level and continually develop throughout the year.”
The Eels started with a hard-fought win over Canberra Raiders and finished the season with four-straight wins over the Rabbitohs, Knights, Magpies and Mounties.
The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup | 2021 Top 5 Tries
After a strong 2021 campaign, the Eels have had limited turnover in their NRL and NSW Cup squads, putting them in prime position for another successful year.
“Hopefully we can keep a consistent team similar to what we had last year,” Carr said.
“We’ve added a few to the squad which I think will boost the depth so we’re just looking for some consistency based off what the boys achieved last year.
While the Eels will be without experienced players such as Will Smith, Keegan Hipgrave and Michael Oldfield in 2022, they still have plenty of experience in their squad with Makahesi Makatoa, Oregon Kaufusi and Jordan Rankin.
Carr will also have plenty of youthful talent at his disposal in 2022 with Arthur, Russell, Hayze Perham, Wiremu Greig and new recruit Brendan Hands adding plenty of excitement and energy to his roster.
Players to Watch
The Eels were one of the most exciting teams in 2021 and that was largely due to their halves pairing of Jakob Arthur and Jordan Rankin.
The two are at opposite ends of their careers with Arthur making his NRL debut in 2021 at 18 while Rankin, now 30, became the youngest ever NRL debutant at just 17 back in 2008. Despite their age gap, Carr believes the two suit each other’s game perfectly.
“They (Arthur and Rankin) complement each other’s game well, so it was enjoyable to work with them last year and to see them develop as a halves pairing,” Carr said.
“’Rank’ brings really good leadership and guidance on the field and he’s an excellent role model for the younger guys.
“He helps the younger players develop while working really hard on his own game.
“Jake was only 18 last year and played NSW Cup and NRL, which is a massive leap for a young halfback.
In 2021 Arthur finished with 10 games, seven tries, eight try assists, seven linebreak assists, five offloads, a tackle efficiency of 89.2%, 11 forced drop outs, 266 kicking metres per game and 55 running metres per game.
Rankin had an incredible year statistically finishing first in try assists (14) and linebreak assists (10), second in points (118), third in kick metres (2,841), as well as nine forced drop outs, a tackle efficiency of 94% and 60 running metres per game.
Other players to watch in 2022 include the recently re-signed trio of Ofaheki Ogden, Ky Rodwell and Wiremu Greig, who had an impressive outing for the Maori All Stars in February.