The Parramatta Eels will kick off their 2018 season with the Battle of the West when the Blue & Gold take on the Penrith Panthers at Panthers Stadium on Sunday 11 March.
Blue & Gold Head Coach Brad Arthur has named a 21 man squad for the clash with Bevan French named at fullback and Josh Hoffman and Kirisome Auva’a named on the wing. Daniel Alvaro and co-captain Tim Mannah have been named in the starting front row whilst Cameron King has been named at hooker.
Arthur has an extended bench of Beau Scott, Brad Takairangi, Suaia Matagi, Kane Evans, Will Smith, Kenny Edwards, David Gower and Kaysa Pritchard.
Kane Evans is set to become Blue & Gold Official Player number 791 whilst the returning Jarryd Hayne will play his 200th NRL clash.
For the Panthers, Head Coach Anthony Griffin has new recruit James Maloney in the halves alongside Nathan Cleary with captain Peter Wallace at hooker. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has been named on the wing with Tyrone Peachey at centre.
Viliame Kikau has been named to start in the back row alongside Isaah Yeo and Trent Merrin at lock, seeing Corey Harawira-Naera move to the bench alongside Sam McKendry, Moses Leota, James Fisher-Harris, Sione Katoa, Tim Brown, Christian Crichton and Jarome Luai.
In the last time these two sides met, the Eels came away 18-12 victors at ANZ Stadium (Round 8, 2017). The Eels also hold a strong head to head advantage, claiming 56 wins from their 94 clashes.
Kick off is at 4:10pm.
Match Details: Penrith Panthers v Parramatta Eels, Panthers Stadium on Sunday 11 March. Kick off at 4:10pm
Televised: Channel 9 and Fox League from 3:30pm
Live Radio: ABC, Triple M
Head-to-head: Played 94, Eels 56 wins, Panther 37 wins, 1 draw.
Last five games:
- Round 8, 2017; Parramatta Eels def. Penrith Panthers 18-12.
- Round 19, 2016; Penrith Panthers def. Parramatta Eels 22-18.
- Round 5, 2016; Penrith Panthers def. Parramatta Eels 20-18.
- Round 22, 2015; Parramatta Eels def. Penrith Panthers 10-4.
- Round 12, 2015; Parramatta Eels def. Penrith Panthers 26-20.
Panthers: 1 Dylan Edwards, 2 Josh Mansour, 3 Waqa Blake, 4 Tyrone Peachey, 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 6 James Maloney, 7 Nathan Cleary, 8 James Tamou, 9 Peter Wallace (c), 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 11 Viliame Kikau, 12 Isaah Yeo, 13 Trent Merrin
Interchange: 14 Corey Harawira-Naera, 15 Sam McKendry, 16 Moses Leota, 17 James Fisher-Harris
Reserves: 18 Sione Katoa, 19 Tim Browne, 20 Christian Crichton, 21 Jarome Luai
Eels: 1 Bevan French, 2 Josh Hoffman, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Jarryd Hayne, 5 Kirisome Auva’a, 6 Corey Norman, 7 Mitchell Moses, 8 Daniel Alvaro, 9 Cameron King, 10 Tim Mannah (c), 11 Manu Ma’u, 12 Tepai Moeroa, 13 Nathan Brown
Interchange: 14 Beau Scott (c), 15 Brad Takairangi, 16 Suaia Matagi, 17 Kane Evans
Reserves: 18 Will Smith, 19 Kenny Edwards, 20 David Gower, 21 Kaysa Pritchard
Match officials: Main referee: Ashley Klein, Assistant referee: Matt Noyen, Touch judges: Brett Suttor, Nick Beashel.