Matterson to come straight back in for battling Eels
Parramatta will bring Ryan Matterson straight back into their side for the grand final rematch against Penrith as they try to turn around their worst start to a season in five years.
Matterson has watched all three of the Eels' opening-season losses from the sideline, after opting to take a three-game ban out of last year's decider over a $4000 fine.
The 28-year-old's experience in the back row has been desperately missing, with the Eels down on troops over the opening three rounds.
Matterson has barely played any football since last year's grand final loss, starting in one trial against the Panthers and playing limited minutes in another against Newcastle.
Coach Brad Arthur is unsure if he will bring him back via the bench or start the back-rower, who was at his best being injected into the game in the first half last year.
It comes after Parramatta suffered two more setbacks in their back row in Thursday night's loss to Manly, with Matt Doorey suffering a knee injury and Jack Murchie concussed.
The 34-30 loss to the Sea Eagles consigned the Eels to 0-3 for the first time since 2018, and with a difficult fortnight ahead against Penrith and the Sydney Roosters.
"He'll be in the 17 somewhere," Arthur said of Matterson.
"The start is not ideal, but it's a good test for us.
"It's a good test of our character that we're sticking together, that we don't start looking for anyone else to blame or listening to too much opinion.
"We know exactly what we need to do to get ourselves back on track. We just have to get out and do it."
Prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard was put on report for a shoulder charge in the 4 Pines Oval defeat. He was charged with a grade one offence by the match review committee but will escape with a fine if he accepts the early guilty plea.
Most concerning for the Eels is their defence.
The club reached last year's grand final despite having the worst defence of any team in the top eight, but their situation has grown worse this season.
They have conceded 80 points in three games against Melbourne, Cronulla and Manly, with their rate of 26.66 points leaked per game the worst of any team in the NRL.
"It's alright scoring 30, but we're conceding six tries, five tries (last week against Cronulla) and two tries the week before," Arthur said.
"There's too many of those moments where the tries are too easy.
"We've scored some good footy tries over the last couple of weeks but the tries against us are just too easy."