They’ve added some new faces to their squad in 2019, but the pressure is still going to be on Parramatta as they look to avoid back-to-back wooden spoons.

Junior Paulo, Blake Ferguson and Shaun Lane are the major additions to the Eels, while the likes of Corey Norman (St George Illawarra) and Jarryd Hayne (unsigned) are the biggest exits.

Norman’s departure is set to shake-up the Eels’ playmaking combination with the likes of Dylan Brown and Jaeman Salmon options to partner Mitchell Moses, who will be under a lot of pressure to perform for both the team and his own future given he’s off-contract at the end of the season.

Ferguson adds plenty of class and experience to the backline, while the club will be glad to have Clint Gutherson fit for the season opener after he missed the first five rounds last year due to an ACL injury.

Up front, the returning Paulo adds plenty of power to the Eels’ forward pack which struggled for go-forward in 2018.

Lane has also proven to be an attacking threat on the edge after his best ever season at Manly.

Overall, it’s a pretty familiar-looking line-up for the Eels in 2019, so the heat will be on Brad Arthur — who’s also off-contract at the end of the season — to breathe some life into the team as they look to recapture the form that took them finals football in 2017.

Outside backs.

The Eels sorely missed Fijian flyer Semi Radradra last season following his departure to French rugby, but they’ve done well on the recruitment front to snare the 2018 Dally M winger of the year in Ferguson.

The former Sydney Roosters premiership winner will no doubt help the Eels get their sets off to a good start and his average of 186 metres per game last year says as much.

On the other flank, George Jennings is likely to get the nod after a promising 2018 season where he averaged 130 metres per game.

The forward pack.

The Eels’ underperforming forwards were criticised last season for not packing enough punch, with former players like Brett Kenny believing they failed to get the team on the front foot.

They’ve brought back Paulo in a bid to combat that problem, while the likes of Manu Ma’u and Nathan Brown will be raring to go following injury-plagued 2018 seasons.

The addition of Lane also shouldn’t be underestimated with the tall backrower scoring 10 tries for the Sea Eagles last year.

Dylan Brown.

The 18-year-old playmaker, who is on contract until the end of 2020, is real chance to partner Moses in the halves this year.

Born in New Zealand before moving to Australia when he was 15, Brown was recently linked to the Warriors after the club reportedly eyed him off as Shaun Johnson’s replacement.

But the Eels issued a back off warning, stating they weren’t letting the former Australian Schoolboy go.

Bevan French, Josh Hoffman, Will Smith, Kaysa Pritchard, Kane Evans, David Gower and Jaeman Salmon.

The Eels have a host of players to call on with NRL experience if Arthur decides to change his side or if injuries hit.

French will be desperate to nail down a backline spot after a disappointing 2018 season, while Hoffman can also fill in at wing or centre.

Smith and Pritchard are utility options for the bench, as are Evans and Gower when it comes to the front row.

Mitchell Moses.

With Norman now at the Dragons, Parramatta will be left without an established playmaker to fill the void.

Brown and Salmon are possible replacements, but the chief playmaking responsibilities will fall onto the shoulders of Moses.

Whether Moses will thrive in that role remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure — he’ll be under plenty of pressure to help guide the Eels off the bottom of the ladder.


1. Clint Gutherson

2. Blake Ferguson

3. Brad Takairangi

4. Michael Jennings

5. George Jennings

6. Dylan Brown

7. Mitchell Moses

8. Daniel Alvaro

9. Reed Mahoney

10. Junior Paulo

11. Shaun Lane

12. Manu Ma’u

13. Nathan Brown

14. Peni Terepo

15. Tim Mannah

16. Marata Niukore

17. Tepai Moeroa