The Roosters will miss SBW for three weeks. Picture: Mark Evans/dailytelegraph.com.au
Sydney Roosters v Parramatta Eels
Saturday, March 15 – 6.35pm (AEST)
Things you need to know:
There is no Sonny Bill Williams for the Tri-Colours after he picked up a three-game ban for a shoulder charge in the loss to South Sydney. His spot in the run-on side has been taken by Mr Fix-it Mitchell Aubusson. New French recruit Remi Casty has been selected on the bench to make his NRL debut. Suspension has also forced Parramatta into a change, with young hooker Kaysa Pritchard replacing Nathan Peats. Peats was handed a four-match ban (three of which is suspended) for his role in an off-field altercation in Bali last October. It's a loss for the Eels with Peats playing a leading role in their 20-point thrashing of the Warriors in round 1.
Reason to watch:
The Roosters may be without their Ferrari in SBW but Parramatta have their own 'Semi Trailer' to help bring some star appeal to this clash. Eels winger Semi Radradra may have only taken up league a couple of years ago and he might drink more kava than protein shakes but he looms as the NRL's newest sensation. His hat-trick against the Warriors last week showed all his qualities – brute strength, pace and clinical finishing. His battle with Roger Tuivasa-Scheck should be an absolute cracker.
Reason to turn away:
While Parramatta showed some encouraging signs last weekend, this match still brings together last season's best and worst sides. And the gulf in class certainly showed in 2013 with the Roosters scoring 88 points in their two big wins over the Blue and Gold's. If round one was just a one-off for the Eels, a similar lopsided score could be on the cards against a Roosters side smarting from their opening round defeat.
"I think it's probably the best test to see how we're travelling, they're (Roosters) the benchmark and won the grand final and we want to test ourselves against the best. For us it doesn't do us any good to look back at all, whether it was a couple of months ago or Round 1 last year; it's about being present and being the best we can be at the moment." – Eels skipper Tim Mannah
There's no doubt the Eels will be an improved outfit under Brad Arthur in 2014 but to think they can automatically start to compete with the NRL's elite might be too much of a stretch. The gaps and try-scoring opportunities that presented themselves against the Warriors last weekend simply won't be so easy to find against a Roosters outfit that prides itself on their miserly defence. The absence of the hard-working and tough-tackling Peats is also a blow to their chances. Roosters by 12
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