The Sharks will travel to CommBank Stadium on Friday evening to face 2022 Grand Finalists Parramatta with both sides aiming to notch their first win of the new season.
The visitors will still be without star playmaker Nicho Hynes who remains sidelined with a calf injury whilst interchange middle Jack Williams will miss the clash after suffering a head knock in their last-start loss to South Sydney.
Royce Hunt comes into the side for him after missing Round 1 with an elbow complaint.
Captain Wade Graham – who was binned in Round 1 for a stray shoulder that connected with Rabbitohs youngster Davvy Moale’s cheekbone – is hoping to have his “reckless high tackle” charge downgraded to a “careless high tackle” at the judiciary which would allow him to receive a fine rather than a suspension.
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An unsuccessful challenge would result in a four-match ban for the veteran back-rower.
Utility Connor Tracey will come onto the interchange should Graham be suspended.
Parramatta, meanwhile, have made just the one change with Sean Russell slotting onto the right wing in place of Isaac Lumelume after missing their season opener through suspension.
Bailey Simonsson has been named among the reserves as he eyes a return from a shoulder injury suffered in the Eels’ Grand Final loss five months ago.
Parramatta halfback Mitchell Moses will be making his 200th NRL appearance in this one.
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The Sharks will look to put their scrappy 27-18 loss to South Sydney on Saturday night behind them whilst the Eels are fresh off a golden-point loss to Melbourne.
The two sides last took each other on in Round 2 last year when a 79th-minute Teig Wilton try and subsequent Hynes conversion lifted the Sharks to an exhilarating 18-16 win at PointsBet Stadium.
The Sharks have beaten the Eels in seven of their past 10 outings but have faced them just once at CommBank Stadium – a game Parramatta won 28-4.
Parramatta have won 11 of their past 15 matches at CommBank Stadium.
With Hynes still unavailable, there will be plenty of pressure on halves Matt Moylan and Braydon Trindall to show off their game management chops and creating point-scoring opportunities for their outside men.
As a pairing, the two had a mixed outing against South Sydney and will have their work cut out for them against Moses and Dylan Brown.
The Eels’ forward pack – which has been decimated by offseason departures, injury, and suspension – will be eager to make amends after their shattering Round 1 loss to Melbourne.
Lock J’maine Hopgood was outstanding in his club debut running for 172 metres and making 57 tackles whilst skipper Junior Paulo scored a try and ran for a game-high 208 metres with six tackle breaks.
Parramatta enter this one as favourites having not lost back-to-back games to open a season since 2018.
Kick-off: Friday 10 March (6:00pm), CommBank Stadium
Sharks squad: 1. Kennedy; 2. Katoa; 3. Ramien; 4. Talakai; 5. Mulitalo; 6. Moylan; 7. Trindall; 8. Rudolf; 9. Brailey; 10. Hamlin-Uele; 11. Nikora; 12. Wilton; 13. Finucane (c); 14. McInnes; 15. Hunt; 16. Kaufusi; 17. Tracey; 18. Hazelton; 19. Hiroti; 20; Bradbury; 21. Berrell; 22. Puru
Eels squad: 1. Gutherson (c); 2. Sivo; 3. Penisini; 4. Blake; 5. Russell; 6. Brown; 7. Moses; 8. Campbell-Gillard; 9. Hodgson; 10. Paulo (c); 11. Cartwright; 12. Doorey; 13. Hopgood; 14. Momoisea; 15. Murchie; 16. Greig; 17. Makatoa; 18. Arthur; 19. Simonsson; 20. Ogden; 21. Rodwell; 22. Dunster
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