The Vodafone Warriors flew to Sydney today for the first leg of three tough matches in the coming weeks.
The run starts against Parramatta at CommBank Stadium on Friday night before they face another trip to Canberra a week later and then home to take on the Storm at Mount Smart Stadium on July 29.
Parramatta has gone W-L-W-L-W in its past five matches with the clash against the Vodafone Warriors a chance to break the unwanted trend.
The Vodafone Warriors broke a seven-game losing streak with victory over the Wests Tigers in round 16 before enjoying a bye round.
Despite their finals chances looking slim, after the appointment of Andrew Webster for 2023, many players will be looking to finish the season strong and impress the new coach.
Eels: Junior Paulo has been named to back up just 48 hours after Origin III. Marata Niukore shifts back to lock, Makahesi Makatao to the bench and Nathan Brown to the reserves. Ryan Matterson (ribs) remains sidelined after missing the win over the Tigers. Jake Arthur has been added to the bench for his first game since round eight and Tom Opacic goes to 18th man.
Vodafone Warriors: Interim head coach Stacey Jones (Covid) remains hopeful he'll be cleared to travel to Sydney on game day after isolating following a positive Covid test. Veteran winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was ruled out earlier in the week after testing positive. The non-Covid virus which led to Ronald Volkman being left out of the squad has hit Jazz Tevaga, too, but the forward remains likely to play. While he continues to feel the lingering impacts of Covid, departing fullback Reece Walsh will play after missing the New Zealand homecoming in round 16.
Edward Kosi, who has scored seven tries in his past five games for Redcliffe in the Hostplus Cup, gets a shot on the wing in place of Watene-Zelezniak, while Chanel Harris-Tavita replaces Volkman at five-eighth. Jack Murchie joins the bench with Bayley Sironen suffering a fractured eye socket.
Match: Eels v Warriors
Round 18 -
Fullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton GuthersonFullback for Warriors is number 1 Reece Walsh
Winger for Eels is number 2 Maika SivoWinger for Warriors is number 2 Marcelo Montoya
Centre for Eels is number 3 Will PenisiniCentre for Warriors is number 3 Jesse Arthars
Centre for Eels is number 4 Waqa BlakeCentre for Warriors is number 4 Adam Pompey
Winger for Eels is number 5 Bailey SimonssonWinger for Warriors is number 5 Edward Kosi
Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Dylan BrownFive-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Chanel Harris-Tavita
Halfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell MosesHalfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun Johnson
Prop for Eels is number 8 Reagan Campbell-GillardProp for Warriors is number 10 Tohu Harris
Hooker for Eels is number 9 Reed MahoneyHooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde Egan
Prop for Eels is number 10 Junior PauloProp for Warriors is number 16 Aaron Pene
2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Shaun Lane2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Euan Aitken
2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Isaiah Papali'i2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Josh Curran
Lock for Eels is number 13 Marata NiukoreLock for Warriors is number 13 Jazz Tevaga
Interchange for Eels is number 14 Makahesi MakatoaInterchange for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
Interchange for Eels is number 15 Jake ArthurInterchange for Warriors is number 14 Freddy Lussick
Interchange for Eels is number 16 Oregon KaufusiInterchange for Warriors is number 15 Bunty Afoa
Interchange for Eels is number 17 Ky RodwellInterchange for Warriors is number 17 Jack Murchie
Replacement for Eels is number 19 Elie El-ZakhemReplacement for Warriors is number 18 Eliesa Katoa
- Referee: Todd Smith
- Touch Judge: Kasey Badger
- Touch Judge: Darian Furner
- Senior Review Official: Chris Butler
Reagan Campbell-Gillard v Jazz Tevaga: A mismatch with size on paper but both fiery customers on the footy field who can give as much as they can take. RCG was a target of the Tigers last start but came out on top in the end with a crucial try and 100 metres. Tevaga, who will wear the #13 jersey this week, ran for 143 metres in 44 minutes in round 17 and won't back down from a challenge.
Both sides come into the match as the kings of the charge down with 12 between the clubs to start the year, so expect to see at least one on Friday night. Vodafone Warriors forward Josh Curran and Eels hooker Reed Mahoney are equal in the competition with three each.