The in-form Parramatta Eels take on the reigning premiers the Roosters this Friday night at ANZ Stadium in what has arguably been deemed as the match of the round.
Parramatta recruit Blake Ferguson will line up against his former club for the first time, after two stellar performances in the opening matches against the Panthers and Bulldogs. League legend Andrew Johns praised Ferguson as one of the best players so far in the early stages of the competition, putting pressure on Josh Addo-Carr to retain his wing for State of Origin if Ferguson sticks to his form.
Youngster Dylan Brown also impressed in the opening rounds, showing early signs of a first grade regular, linking well with Mitchell Moses and Clinton Gutherson, demonstrating a good short kicking game in the opening stages.
However, Brown and Moses will have their task set for them come Friday, when they face up against Luke Keary who put on a maestro-like performance against Manly at a wet Brookvale oval without his halves partner Cooper Cronk, who was absent due to injury. Questions remain over Cronk’s inclusion this Friday.
Injury clouds still rain over the Eastern Suburbs club with hooker Jake Friend still in doubt suffering a shoulder complaint which will cause Trent Robinson a reshuffle of his 17 with Victor Radley more than likely to be named as starting hooker, slotting Mitchell Aubusson into the pack and Issac Liu filling the void at lock.
Latrell Mitchell will once again start at 5/8 as he did against Manly, kicking an unheard of 40/20 as a debutant 5/8, an incredible stat. Lachlan Lam will certainly have a role in the 17 if Cronk is ruled out. Lam impressed in his first-grade debut, setting up a try assist for his captain Boyd Cordner.
Meanwhile, Parramatta centre Michael Jennings looks set to return after his first round suspension for a high tackle. Despite that, they are full strength.
Parramatta looks like a rejuvenated squad after the opening weeks and the Roosters bounced back incredibly well after their Round 1 defeat to South Sydney. Whether or not Keary can be tamed and pressured while kicking through 80 minutes we will see.
Ferguson is set to be fired up against his former club and hopefully for Parramatta fans, Gutherson, Moses, Mahoney and Brown will continue a good partnership as the spine for Parramatta. It will be a tight affair with hopefully a big crowd at ANZ Stadium.