The Eels’ long-suffering fans have seen their team come close to breaking their long drought several times in recent seasons, only to fall short of the grand final.
A finals spot is almost a given, but from there halfback Mitchell Moses will need to be the man to guide the Eels to the promised land.
A well balanced squad with plenty of strike power, they are primed for another solid campaign and the trial win over premiers Penrith last weekend was eye-catching.
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2021 finishing position: 6th
Gains: Bailey Simonsson (Raiders), Mitch Rein (Titans).
Losses: Joey Lussick (St. Helens), Blake Ferguson (rugby union), Michael Oldfield (released), Sam Hughes (released), Will Smith (Titans), Keegan Hipgrave (retirement).
Best 17: 1. Clint Gutherson, 2. Maika Sivo, 3. Will Penisini, 4. Waqa Blake, 5. Bailey Simonsson, 6. Dylan Brown, 7. Mitch Moses, 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 9. Reed Mahoney, 10. Junior Paulo, 11. Isaiah Papali’i, 12. Ryan Matterson, 13. Nathan Brown, 14. Marata Niukore, 15. Shaun Lane, 16. Oregon Kaufusi, 17. Bryce Cartwright
Greatest strength: As good a spine as there is in the NRL, with fullback Clint Gutherson, halves Dylan Brown and Moses and hooker Reed Mahoney forming a devastating combination.
Biggest question mark: The Eels were quiet in the transfer market over the summer and depth could become an issue if injury strikes. Already promising winger Haze Dunster is out for the year and star flanker Maika Sivo will miss the early rounds.
Man under pressure: On his day, Moses is the equal of any halfback in the competition – he just needs to find his day more often. If he does, the Eels could be top four material.
Biggest loss: Aggressive forward Keegan Hipgrave gave some x-factor to an already strong pack. His big hits and strong runs will be missed after injury forced him into retirement.
Predicted 2022 finishing position: 6th
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