Eels v Cowboys: Joe O in for Paulo; Taumalolo return on hold

After putting their season back on track with a stunning win over the Rabbitohs, last year's grand finalists Parramatta look to continue the momentum against a Cowboys side left reeling by a humiliating loss to Wests Tigers.

The Eels and Cowboys sit 13th and 14th coming in to Round 13 but they're worlds apart in terms of confidence and self-belief after the events of last weekend.

On Saturday night the Cowboys conceded 66 points in a match for just the third time in their 28-year history and they now have the worst defensive record in the competition, a world apart from the structure and standards that carried them all the way to a preliminary final in 2022.

The team they lost to in that prelim final was the Eels, who have had their own struggles in a sluggish 5-7 start to the season, but the form of Dylan Brown, Mitch Moses and J'maine Hopgood in the big win over the Rabbitohs suggests they are on track to make a mid-season charge.

After facing the Cowboys in Round 13 the Eels have a bye to freshen up before three winnable games against the Bulldogs, Sea Eagles and Dolphins and another bye in Round 18.

Team News
Eels: New signing Joe Ofahengaue comes straight into the starting side with Junior Paulo away on Blues Origin duty. With Ryan Matterson (calf) and Andrew Davey (head knock) also sidelined, Matt Doorey returns for his first game since Round 9 and Luca Moretti makes his NRL debut. No changes in the 24-hour update, with Ky Rodwell and Daejarn Asi remaining in the wider squad. 

Cowboys: With Val Holmes, Murray Taulagi, Reuben Cotter and Tom Dearden all on Maroons Origin duty the Cowboys have called up two debutants in centre Zac Laybutt and winger Robert Derby, while Ben Hampton is the new five-eighth and Jake Granville starts at lock. Jason Taumalolo dropped out of the squad on Thursday when it was cut to 19 and will look to return from a knee injury in Round 14. Griffin Neame (throat) returns ahead of schedule on the bench alongside Jamayne Taunoa-Brown who missed Round 12 due to a head knock. Mitchell Dunn goes from the bench back to 18th Man.

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