Pictured: Josh Hodgson for Parramatta Eels (Picture: Matt King (Getty Images)

2023 NRL Season Preview: Parramatta Eels

After coming so close to breaking the longest NRL premiership drought, the Parramatta Eels look to make it to the big dance again in 2023.

Recap of last season

Falling ever-so-short of breaking the NRL's longest premiership drought, the 2022 Eels side made it all the way to the big dance, only to lose 28-12 to the back-to-back premiers, the Penrith Panthers, in an all-time battle of the west.

Finishing 4th in the regular season, +119 in for and against points, the Eels showed some serious strength in 2022 and were a force to be reckoned with.

How can they improve

While they still managed to make it to the Grand Final, the Eels had a pattern of not being switched on early in the game.

In 2022, Parramatta conceded the first score- either a try or penalty goal- on 17 occasions.

In the Finals series, they conceded 24 points in the opening 10 minutes of games, putting themselves under immense pressure from the outset.

When they scored the first try, the Eels won 90% of matches and should they focus on putting pressure on early in the game, they should see much better results overall.

List changes

Gains: Josh Hodgson (Raiders), J'maine Hopgood (Panthers), Jirah Momoisea (Knights), Jack Murchie (Warriors), Matt Doorey (Bulldogs), Daejarn Asi (Warriors)

Losses: Marata Niukore (Warriors), Isaiah Papali'i (Wests Tigers), Oregon Kaufusi (Sharks), Reed Mahoney (Bulldogs), Ray Stone (Dolphins), Tom Opacic (Hull KR), Hayze Perham (Bulldogs), David Hollis (unsigned).

Biggest Strength

Parramatta's starting 1-13 is an extremely strong side and this will benefit them greatly going into 2023.

With one of the best spine combinations in the NRL, and a forward pack that boasts World Cup representatives Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Shaun Lane, and a rather stable group of outside backs, the Eels have a side that will be able to push forward and pose a real threat to any side in the competition.

 Biggest weakness

Parramatta's biggest downfall in 2022 was their heavyweight pressure. They showed class against teams below them on the ladder but could not show the same against teams positioned near them.

Their missed tackle count was above 40 in five games in 2022- all of which were against heavyweight sides Penrith, Melbourne, North Queensland and Cronulla.

They also scored two tries or less in seven games, six of which being against top-eight teams.

Should they look to go further in 2023, the Eels will need to bring their A-game against the competition heavyweights to help push them in the direction of a minor premiership and hopefully another shot at a premiership.

 Rising Star

After playing nearly every game for Parramatta in 2022, Will Penisini established himself as one of the game's best centres at only 20 years old and played 3 games for Tonga while scoring 5 tries.


Penisini scored 10 tries in the year and made 5 try assists and 8 linebreaks, and boasted a 90.27% tackle efficiency.


Parramatta has maintained an extremely strong squad going into 2023 and has the depth to cover themselves during representative rounds and through injury which will make all the difference compared to some other competition heavyweights.

Ladder Prediction: 5th