This article was first written for and published by The Daily Telegraph.
The Parramatta Eels should look forward to a season of considerable improvement with astute recruiting in the off season. Players such as Michael Jennings (Sydney Roosters) Michael Gordon (Cronulla Sharks), Beau Scott (Newcastle Knights) and star recruit Kieran Foran (Manly Sea Eagles) give the Eels experience and a much stronger presence on the field.
This coupled with the Eels playing all the three major bye rounds make the Eels squad very compelling from a Supercoach perspective.
Michael Gordon from the outset and Semi Radradra prior to Round 12 are must haves from the Eels. The challenge is to then find a few more hidden gems from mid-range players like Manu Ma’u and Nathan Peats.
Full analysis below:
INS: Mitch Cornish (Raiders), Michael Gordon (Sharks), Beau Scott (Knights), Michael Jennings (Roosters) Clinton Gutherson (Sea Eagles), Cameron King (Cowboys), James Hasson (Sea Eagles), Keiran Moss (Panthers), Rory O’Brien (Dragons), Scott Schulte (Cowboys), Kelepi Tanginoa (Cowboys), Honeti Tuha (Knights), Matthew Woods (Tigers)
OUTS: Chris Sandow (Warrington), Will Hopoate (Bulldogs), Darcy Lussick (Sea Eagles), Joseph Paulo (Sharks), Reece Robinson (Union), Beau Champion (retired), Richie Fa’aoso (retired), Josh Aloiai (Tigers), Ben Crooks (Castleford), Zach Dockar-Clay (Panthers), Fabian Goodall (Sea Eagles), Tui Kamikamica (Union) Halauafa Lavaka (Sea Eagles), Ryan Matterson (Roosters), Adam Quinlan (Dragons)
PREDICTED BEST 17
Michael Gordon, Semi Radradra, Brad Takarangi, Ryan Morgan, Clinton Gutherson, Michael Jennings, Kieran Foran, Tim Mannah (c), Nathan Peats, Junior Paulo, Beau Scott, Manu Ma'u, Anthony Watmough. Interchange: Isaac De Gois, Tepai Moeroa, Danny Wicks, David Gower.
Michael Gordon gives stability and experience at fullback replacing the numerous players tried in that position by the Eels in 2015. Keiran Foran replacing Chris Sandow (Warrington) at half back is a key change at for 2016 whilst Beau Scott adds a depth of experience in the second row.
The Michael Jennings signing from the Roosters could see him switching to the right side giving the Eels attacking potency on both sides of the field.
Semi Radradra ($512,900)
Parramatta boast the most expensive Supercoach player at 2016 launch with Semi Radradra priced at $512,900. The 2015 top try scorer with 24 tries from only 18 matches and the best average of 81.11 is a certainty to be top try scorer in 2016 if he remains injury free.
Semi has the opportunity to bust 100+ and is likely to score multiple tries often in games this season. His ability to gain metres, break tackles, make line breaks and score tries makes him a must have for Super Coach in 2016. The question is when to bring him in. A few key questions may help you answer this.
Although Chris Sandow had his issues he provided Semi with multiple try opportunities especially as he was the only viable attacking option for the Eels in 2015. With Foran, Norman and Jennings in the Eels backline there are definitely more options in 2016. Does that free up Semi even more or does it spread the scoring around far more? Even more key however is which side does Michael Jennings play. Semi established a very potent combination with Takairangi in 2015. This hopefully continues in 2015 but will mean Michael Jennings will need to switch sides of the field.
Semi looms as a must have be in your Supercoach line up by the first bye round (round 12) where he will be a captaincy contender each of the major bye rounds. At $512,900 you can take the gamble that he may lose some value in the early rounds but at any time prior leading up to round 12 he should be managed into your team.
Michael Gordon ($285,900)
Michael Gordon will finally give the Eels stability in their full back position where numerous players were tried unsuccessfully in 2015. At the Sharks Gordon had to share the full back position at times in 2015 with Valentine Holmes and Ben Barba and he now cements a spot as the Eels No 1.
A noted goal kicker, Michael Gordon has the potential to not only provide solid and reliable Supercoach points but also increase in value. Additionally he has dual position coverage at both Fullback and Centre/Wing. He looms as a must have in initial Supercoach teams.
Cameron King ($133,300)
The former Cowboy comes to the Eels as a back-up hooker. Nathan Peats is a lock in for hooker at the Eels but has had his issue with injuries over the past two seasons. With veteran Isaac De Gois the other hooker option there could be a real opportunity for King to rack up Supercoach value if given the opportunity.
EELS COMPELLING BYE COVERAGE
The Eels are the only team who play all 3 bye rounds making some of their key players compelling for by coverage. The three players below are the ones to consider with Peats and Ma’u strong contenders to have in initial Supercoach squads.
Nathan Peats ($367,400)
Nathan Peats is a very solid Supercoach scorer with a 2015 average of 58.11. Depending on how he is used he has the capacity to play 80 minutes and has dual position coverage at both Hooker and Second Row. Peats is a player who always gives his best and will not let you down from a Supercoach perspective.
Manu Ma’u ($341,700)
Manu Ma’u is the Eels second rower to most likely to play 80 minute games in the 2016 season. He has the ability to break the line and with Keiran Foran joining the Eels is likely to have more attacking opportunities to back up his base line scores. He looks as a must have especially during the bye rounds.
Daniel Alvaro ($195,900)
Daniel Alvaro has huge potential but is awkwardly priced at $195,900. With limited opportunity in 201 where he played 7 games averaging 22 minutes and scoring 34.43 points and included 2 tries. With ageing back rowers like Watmough and Beau Scott Alvaro could have his opportunity in 2016. If he is on the interchange for the Eels in round 1 he could be an astute buy.
NO GO ZONE
Anthony Watmough ($297,900)
Anthony Watmough used to be a Supercoach prime player and many could consider him again especially with the potential of more minutes due to the reduced inter change (2015 average 54 minutes). He however seems past his prime and is injury prone. There are other emerging second rowers to make Watmough a No Go Zone in 2016.
The Eels have considerable more depth across the park in 2016 and it is highly unlikely that any rookies will figure in early 2016 squad contention.
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