In a series analysing who will line up in each position for all 16 teams in the opening round of the Telstra Premiership in 2021, NRL.com looks at the Parramatta Eels.
NRL.com says: the Eels turned over plenty of players in the off-season.
Apart from ex-Cowboys centre Tom Opacic replacing the provisionally suspended Michael Jennings and Isaiah Papali'i in for the suspended Marata Niukore (who has one game left on a crusher tackle ban), the rest of the new recruits don't look like cracking the top 17 in an almost entirely unchanged side from last season.
Titans discard Bryce Cartwright will get a chance at some stage in the season and could take the bench utility role if he can convince Brad Arthur he is NRL-ready before round one.
Joey Lussick and potentially former Warriors rake Nate Roache (who is on a development deal) will provide back-up to Mahoney at hooker.
Jamie Soward says: it's a good side. They missed an opportunity in 2020 with how the comp started versus how they played towards the back end. They get some depth with Carty.
The question mark around Parra is if Reed goes down who is their back up. Even if he doesn't, we can't let him tackle himself to a standstill by round eight.
Most teams carry that utility hooker on the bench but I think that will end up being Stone and Smith will give way to someone like a Cartwright. Niukore will probably come straight back into the side in round two.
Opacic is an interesting one, I think Haze Dunster will actually find himself in that backline. Oldfield has some experience and may force his way in if Fergo or Sivo is not doing the job.
Eels in 2021
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