Eels NRLW analysis and best 17

Parramatta's quest to bring a wealth of western Sydney talent home for the NRL Telstra Women's Premiership was a huge success as the team prepares for their first season in the competition.

The Eels are one of three sides set to enter the NRLW in 2022 and have built a squad destined to make an immediate impact. 

Led by the likes of local products, Jillaroos stars Simaima Taufa and Botille Vette-Welsh, the Eels have recruited a mix of players from rival NRLW clubs and the Harvey Norman NSW Premiership.

Taufa and Vette-Welsh are two of five former Roosters who have switched to Parramatta while six have arrived from the Dragons. 

NSW representatives Tiana Penitani and Kennedy Cherrington are also major signings for the blue and gold as the team looks to set a standard under inaugural coach Dean Widders.

Widders has a wealth of coaching experience in the women's game, recently in charge of South Sydney in the Harvey Norman NSW Premiership.

A total of 13 players are in line for making their NRLW debut including Fatafehi Hanisi, the younger sister of NSW prop Filomina, and Fiji Bulikula captain Sereana Naitokatoka.

Naitokatoka and Studdon will have competition in the halves with Emily Curtain also part of the squad and vying for a position.

Possible best 17

1. Botille Vette-Welsh 2. Tess Staines 3. Jocephy Daniels 4. Tiana Penitani 5. Rikeya Horne 6. Sereana Naitokatoka 7. Maddie Studdon 8. Filomina Hanisi 9. Nita Maynard 10. Kennedy Cherrington 11. Ellie Johnston 12. Jade Etherden 13. Simaima Taufa. Interchange: 14. Therese Aiton 15. Fatafehi Hanisi 16. Jamie Anne Wright 17. Christine Pauli.

Biggest strength

The side's projected spine is strong and complements their starting forward pack which includes the Hanisi sisters and Jillaroos forward Simaima Taufa. 

Botille Vette-Welsh is one of the best fullbacks in the game while Maddie Studdon and Nita Maynard will enter their fourth seasons in the NRLW and have previously played well as a combination.

Biggest question mark

The side is lacking experienced back-rowers compared to other NRLW sides with edge defence a possible area for rivals to target.

There are only three recognised back-rowers in the squad, although some who play in the middle are capable of shifting wide.

Ellie Johnston had a taste of the NRLW in 2020 for the Dragons and giving her early ball on the edge is key if Parramatta wants to use her effectively.

Draw snapshot

The Eels will launch their NRLW season against the Knights in the final game of a triple-header at McDonald Jones Stadium on February 27.

Their history-making home game moment will come in round three when they host the Titans at CommBank Stadium before the men's fixture on March 13.

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  • Go girls!

  • If the NRLW Eels win it this season, I'm declaring the 36 year drought over. I don't care what anyone else says...

    • LOL. That's right! A win is a win!

      • HOE, how are you mate? I've heard you're a mod on here now. Good luck controlling the lynch mob. I have my pitchfork ready if you need it...

        • Hahaha, thanks MeelK. All good brother. How've you been?

          Don't speak too soon about pitchforks, you might end up another volunteer mod, lol. I don't think anyone can control the bedlam here. Probably not even the Gods. You've seen, "One flew over the Cuckoos' nest"?

          • All good thanks mate. Been out of it for the last couple of weeks. Had a week away for my 11 year old to play in a rep cricket carnival. The gift from that was covid for half the families involved. My eldest has it, my youngest and wife probably have it. All good though, none of them are too sick at this stage, touch wood.

    • Lol Meelk Yes it counts

  • It's great we've got a woman's team. Got to admit though, and this is probably an indictment of how much of a male-dominated sport it has been all my life, I haven't watched much of the NRLW. I'll try to open my eyes and mind to it, a bit. LOL.

    • I went to Dolphin Oval in 2021 to watch some of the women's National Championship games. There's no doubt the skill of some of these girls has improved out of sight over the last few years with a more professional approach to all things. And let me tell you, some of them can really hit and have no fear.

      Great to see the Eels field a team, sick of the Bronco's winning it so let's hope the Eels win it in their inaugural season.

      • The way the dolphins are recruiting brissy, theres a good chance some of those girls will have the skills to crack Waynes team.

This reply was deleted.

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