The biggest moments of NRL season 2017

This story was first written for and published by The Roar.

Not that long ago, I was waiting in anticipation for the Parramatta Eels’ first game of the 2017 season, against the Manly Sea Eagles at Lottoland. Now, more than 26 weeks later, only eight teams remain in the hunt for premiership glory.

The final eight, in order, are the Melbourne Storm, Sydney Roosters, Brisbane Broncos, Parramatta Eels, Cronulla Sharks, Manly Sea Eagles, Penrith Panthers, and North Queensland Cowboys.

We’re back baby!

This article was written by Melissa Muscat – 2017 Parramatta Eels Members Councillor.

Rejoice Parramatta Eels Fans…the eight year finals hiatus is finally over! Eight. Years. That is a very long time ago, especially to be deprived of that wonderful footy finals feeling we all know, love and deserve to be part of being loyal members and fans of our team.

I was fortunate enough to meet with Eels CEO Bernie Gurr on Monday night at the Ken Thornett Medal awards, held at the Grand Pavilion, Rosehill Racecourse. What a great night it was with special congrats to Clint Gutherson on the Coaches Award and Nathan Brown on the Members Award and prestigious Ken Thornett Medal. I had a brief chat with Bernie and he mentioned the exciting times ahead with the Eels about to play finals footy. I agreed, telling him it will be the focus of my next article, ’We’re Back Baby’. He had a bit of a laugh and asked if I would title it just that…so on behalf of all Eels fans and members, we say thank you for playing a major role in bringing our beloved team from a very dark place and leading us to the wonderful success we are enjoying in a short turn around on and off the field. This mention is for Bernie, Max Donnelly and the entire Eels team who have worked hard in making our club the success it once again deserves to be. If I am to thank one other person it would be Eels great Peter Sterling for the recommendation of Bernie as CEO. A great footy personality whose opinions are always valid and revered.

Ladies who League: Celebrating the season

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As the rugby league regular season draws to a close for another year, we are now at the point where it is time for celebration.

Over the next couple of weeks clubs will take this opportunity to celebrate the season that was. Other clubs will hold off the celebrations for a couple more weeks to see how deep into September they will play. Journalists and fans will write lists of their favourite tries from 2017, the best buys of the season and the most important rugby league moments of the year. 

Why are people getting behind the Eels?

This story was first written for and published by The Roar.

On Friday morning, it finally hit me. This year, for the first time since 2009, the Parramatta Eels will be playing finals football.

What’s more, after their 52-34 win over the Broncos on Thursday night, the Eels find themselves sitting in the top four. Should they finish there, it will be for the first time since 2005.

If my maths is correct, the highest the Eels can finish is second and the lowest is fifth.

Ladies who League: Rugby league bucket list

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One thing that always brings me back to rugby league is the live game experience.

Over the years of supporting my various teams (whether that be the Parramatta Eels, the Australian Kangaroos, the Australian Jillaroos or the New South Wales Blues) I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the place watching footy. I’ve been to Canberra, I’ve been to Darwin, I’ve been to Auckland and I’ve been to Newcastle. And I’ve been to plenty more. 

Women’s sport weekly wrap: All about participation in league and rugby

This story was first written for and published by The Roar.

When our major sports talk about establishing women’s competitions, one of the key words is sustainability.

It’s important that we aim to develop competitions that are exciting, marketable and that feature exceptional talent, but the core obligation must be to ensure our competitions are sustainable. There is no point in a sport deciding to introduce a women’s competition if there is not enough talent to go around or if there isn’t enough talent to make sure that the competition is sustainable in the long-term.

Football or rugby league

This article was written by Melissa Muscat, Parramatta Eels Member and Parramatta Eels Members Councillor.

Soccer or Footy? That’s the question I often get asked. I am openly passionate about both. But which do I prefer? People insisting I must have a preference to one over the other. Firstly, yes, I still refer to soccer as that and rugby league as footy. That’s what they were known as in this beautiful country all my years growing up so that’s what I still call it.

Back to the question. They are like comparing chalk and cheese. Two totally different games. One is tough, the other requires a different skill set. Both beautiful. It’s like asking a parent to choose their favourite child, it just can’t be done. Well it can, but it doesn’t have to be. Of all the sporting choice in the world I often find that these two codes are the most compared and in competition with each other in Sydney.

Our stadiums are empty, but does it matter?

This article was first written for and published by The Roar.

Two games on consecutive days at ANZ Stadium last weekend each saw crowds of fewer than 7000 people.

On Thursday 17 August, just 6826 saw the Parramatta Eels beat the Gold Coast Titans 30-8.

The next day, Friday 18 August, 6213 people watched the South Sydney Rabbitohs get over the New Zealand Warriors 36-18.

Many were surprised that two teams boasting among the largest supporter bases in the NRL, Parra and Souths, would have such low crowds heading into the business end of the season – particularly when the Eels are pushing for finals for the first time since 2009.

There were also headlines about how poorly these attendances reflect on the game. How they suggest that rugby league is in trouble and how the game is losing ground to the likes of football and AFL.

Ladies who League: Knights show the way

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Last Friday night the Newcastle Knights posted their third victory in a row, snapping the Parramatta Eels six game winning streak with a 29-10 victory at ANZ Stadium.

This win was special for a number of reasons. It meant that the Knights found themselves out of the wooden spoon position on the ladder briefly. It was the first time since the start of the 2015 season that the Knights have won three consecutive games.

Should Hayne stay or should he go?

This article was first written for and published by The Roar.

Jarryd Hayne is one of the most naturally gifted players I have ever had the opportunity to watch.

Being a Parramatta fan, Jarryd was on my radar before he burst onto the scene, at age 18 in 2006, making his debut for the Eels against the Penrith Panthers.

There were plenty of whispers before then about this prodigy who would be a key part of the squad and potentially help lead the club to our first premiership since 1986.

We all know how that ended.