Eels co-captain Jarryd Hayne says there's a new look to the side this year, and it's not just the new jersey. Copyright: NRL Photos/Grant Trouville.

Eels flag flies over Belmore

At this stage, Parramatta will take any win they can get. 

As part of a side bet in Parramatta and Canterbury-Bankstown's #Raceto20k members challenge, the Bulldogs were forced to watch Eels member Victoria Coppini hoist their blue and yellow flag over Belmore Oval after their long time rivals won the race to 15,000 members. 

"It's pretty simple for me, it's just a great achievement from a membership base that has probably been underestimated for a while," Seward told NRL.com. 

"The club hasn't performed great on the field, but we've still got fans that are willing to commit to the club and to beat the Bulldogs to the 15,000 mark is a great start for us."

With last year's record membership number of 17,200 now within sight, reaching the 20,000 mark would be a huge achievement for a club whose stadium has a capacity over a little over 21,000. 

"It's a terrific sign of faith in the team. The membership base and fanbase is so strong that we're back near the record number we had last year," Seward said. 

"Hopefully we can knock the Bulldogs off at the 17,000 mark and 20,000 mark and get some bragging rights over our old rivals. What'd really be nice though is if we get some bragging rights off the field as well."

While the punishment – or prize? – has yet to be determined for the first club to reach 20,000 members, Castle said she was still confident the Bulldogs fanbase would come from behind for the major milestone. 

"We congratulate the Eels on their milestone, but remind them that the race has just begun," Castle said. 

"With our blockbuster against the Bunnies on Good Friday nearing and the Bark Magazine just published, there has never been a better time to sign up and I know the Bulldogs faithful will rise to the challenge!"