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Act of Squad: Eels predicted Round 1 team and 2024 overview

They've been quiet on the player market, having welcomed just two new faces for next season but the battle for spots at Parramatta will be heating up ahead of Round 1, with several key positions yet to be locked in.

The race to partner Will Penisini in the centres will be one to watch with Sean Russell, Bailey Simonsson and new recruit Morgan Harper all in the frame. But 21-year-old Russell looks set to be given first crack after starring on an edge last season. 

Following the retirement of veteran Englishman Josh Hodgson, a two-way battle to be Parramatta's No. 9 also looks to be brewing at CommBank. Young gun Brendan Hands is likely to take the reins in Round 1 but if Joey Lussick doesn't nail a spot on the bench, he will be pushing his teammate all season.

With contract negotiations surrounding halfback Mitch Moses, a potential positional switch on the cards for Clint Gutherson and five-eighth Dylan Brown missing rounds 15-23 due to an NRL Breach Notice, Parramatta were under pressure all season to shut out external noise.

But with Gutherson in career-best form at fullback, Moses locked in on a new contract and Brown putting a troubled season behind him with an impressive Kiwis campaign, that 'core group' will still be driving the hunger to break the 38-year premiership drought after coming so close in 2022.

NRL Fantasy club by club: Eels

Predicted Round 1 team

  1. Clint Gutherson
  2. Maika Sivo
  3. Will Penisini
  4. Sean Russell
  5. Bailey Simonsson
  6. Dylan Brown
  7. Mitch Moses
  8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
  9. Brendan Hands
  10. Junior Paulo
  11. Ryan Matterson
  12. Shaun Lane
  13. J'maine Hopgood
  14. Joe Ofahengaue
  15. Bryce Cartwright
  16. Wiremu Greig
  17. Kelma Tuilagi

Key Changes 

Ins: Kelma Tuilagi (Sea Eagles), Morgan Harper (Sea Eagles).
Outs: Jack Murchie (Huddersfield Giants), Josh Hodgson (retired), Andrew Davey (retired). 

Health Watch

Wiremu Greig (Foot, Pre-Season Challenge)
Clint Gutherson (Knee, Round 1)
Daejarn Asi (Finger, Round 1)
Makahesi Makatoa (Pectoral, Round 1)
Junior Paulo (Toe, Round 1)
Arthur Miller-Stephen (ACL, 2025)
Richard Penisini (ACL, 2025)

Positional battle to watch 

The Eels still haven't filled the void left by Reed Mahoney’s departure to the Bulldogs at the end of 2023, with the plan to have Josh Hodgson mentor the next generation of dummy halves brought unstuck by the veteran's forced retirement due to injury.

Hodgson has moved into a role as the Assistant Coaching Director for the club's Elite Pathways Program so players can still pick his brain but his experience will be missed.

Now the battle for the No.9 jersey rests between returning Super League hooker Joey Lussick and Penrith junior Brendan Hands.

Lussick was handed the reins from rounds 23-27 last season but Brad Arthur looks likely to give Hands first shot at the position if the 24-year-old can put in a strong pre-season and prove he has a big future in the NRL. 

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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