Parramatta Eels 2024 season preview

Parramatta Eels 2024 season preview

2023 recap

After reaching the Grand Final in 2022, a top eight finish was the bare minimum that Parramatta would’ve expected last year, but the Eels couldn’t quite manage it. One win in the opening five games left them with an uphill battle, and although they recovered to put themselves in contention for a finals place, they never looked completely convincing. A season of turmoil saw new hooker, Josh Hodgson, retire midway through the campaign, five-eighth, Dylan Brown suspended for seven weeks for an off-field incident, and star half, Mitchell Moses miss five games through injury and a NSW call-up. The timing of the latter couldn’t have been worse from an Eels perspective, as it came at the same time as Brown’s suspension to leave the Eels without their first-choice playmakers at a critical point of the year.

2023 position: 11th

Key signings

Morgan Harper (Manly Sea Eagles), Kelma Tuilagi (Manly Sea Eagles)

Key departures

Waqa Blake (St Helens Saints), Andrew Davey (retired), Jack Murchie (Huddersfield Giants)

Players to watch

Maika Sivo has scored at least 13 tries in each of his five seasons in first-grade, so a double digit return in 2024 is a near-certainty for the Fijian winger, who needs 17 to bring up his century. With Sivo highly likely to be the Eels’ first-choice on the left wing, I’m fully expecting him to reach the milestone this year.

Dylan Brown will be looking to repay the Eels for standing by him after his off-field indiscretions in 2023. The 23-year-old was suspended for seven games last year and his absence was keenly felt by a Parramatta side that looks much stronger with him in it. If he can behave himself off the pitch, then he’ll be a key player for the side in 2024.

Young gun

Ethan Sanders could find himself thrust into first grade this year if the Eels have a repeat of last year’s injuries and suspensions in the halves. The 19-year-old led Parramatta to the UNE SG Ball Premiership in 2023, and he’s been called up to the first grade side for the pre-season trials, so a debut could be just around the corner.

Our prediction – 6th

Head coach Brad Arthur is arguably the coach with the most pressure on him heading into 2024, as he enters his 11th season in charge. I’m fully expecting his side to bounce back and play finals this year though. 2023 was the Eels’ first season outside the top eight since 2018, but I think it was the exception rather than the rule and the amount of issues the team had throughout the year would’ve knocked any club off their stride.

Darren Notley

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