The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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An Easter Monday special looms as the desperate Eels battle a rejuvenated Tigers side
It has been all downhill for the Eels after back-to-back victories to start the year, with the Western Sydney club dropping their next four to come into this one in 13th position. Defensive lapses in particular have proven costly with the Eels conceding three tries within ten minutes in last week's 22-10 defeat at the hands of the Warriors. The loss of fullback Bevan French, who had scored three tries in five games before suffering a PCL injury, cannot be understated. However, luckily for the Parramatta club, they welcome back second-rower Tepai Moeroa, offsetting the loss of Frank Pritchard with a foot injury. With the Top Eight slowly slipping away the Eels will be keen for the two points this weekend but their return to their ‘home ground' at ANZ Stadium is hardly welcoming as the Eels have lost 13 of their past 14 there.
Meanwhile, in their first week under new coach Ivan Cleary, the Tigers stunned the highly-fancied Cowboys in Townsville, holding on for a 26-16 win. The Tigers looked a completely different side in both attack and defence, perhaps reflecting their confidence going forward with their coaching dilemmas now settled. However, an interesting battle this week sees Mitchell Moses take on the club he may possibly suit up to play for the following week. Either way, Cleary will need his side to refocus as they look to build upon last week's victory, with errors almost costing the Tigers in the second half last weekend. Luckily the Cowboys were unable to capitalise, also making countless mistakes of their own, yet Cleary will know his side may not be so fortunate this week as they prepare for a desperate Parramatta outfit.
Last meeting: Round 21 2016 - Eels 8 Wests Tigers 23
Who to watch: For the Eels, they just simply need some Corey Norman class to guide them home on Monday afternoon. Norman was well contained by the Warriors last weekend, not posting any try assists, line breaks or tackle busts. However, in Parramatta's two victories to start the year, Norman starred with eight tackle busts, two try assists, two line breaks and a try. If the Eels win on Easter Monday, they will need an egg-cellent display from Norman.
Similarly, it is an obvious choice, but I cannot go past James Tedesco for the Tigers. Tedesco was actually relatively quiet in last weekend's victory, yet still managed seven tackle busts and 161 running metres - a scary thought for any opposition. For the whole season, however, he leads the competition with a whopping 53 tackle breaks and the Tigers will need him to be at his egg-splosive best on Monday.
1. Clint Gutherson 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennings 4. Kirisome Auva'a 5. Josh Hoffman 6. Brad Takairangi 7. Corey Norman 8. Suaia Matagi 9. Kaysa Pritchard 10. Tim Mannah 11. Manu Ma'u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown 14. Beau Scott 15. Peni Terepo 16. Daniel Alvaro 17. Siosaia Vave
1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Jamal Idris 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Moses Suli 6. Mitchell Moses 7. Jack Littlejohn 8. Aaron Woods 9. Matt McIlwrick 10. Ava Seumanufagai 11. Josh Aloiai 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Elijah Taylor 14. Tim Grant 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Michael Chee-Kam 17. Jacob Liddle