The Eels have lost a few key players in the last few seasons, to other teams, codes and in one case, other sports entirely. Still, the men from Parramatta have recruited well, and still have aspirations of Premiership glory, and they’ll be doing it once again kitted out by Aussie supplier XBlades.
While the players are different, the jersey they’ll be wearing is very similar indeed, because the home shirt is identical to what the Eels were sporting for the 2015 season, right down to the sponsors – there’s not even an ISC-style collar change to spruce things up.
Of course, teams don’t have to release a new shirt every year, and there’s nothing wrong with this design. The thin yellow stripes that run across the chest and shoulders are very distinctive and cool, even if they do look a little ‘Adidas-y’.
Familiarity shouldn’t necessarily breed contempt, though, and this is a perfectly nice jersey – even the sponsors are fairly inoffensive, with the exception of the Unibet ‘pool ball’ logo that looks very ugly across the back. Still though, we do wish that someone would give the Eels look a kick up the arse.
And maybe the away jersey is the place where XBlades should start? In contrast to the simple palette-swap of last season, this year’s away shirt is a much more unique and original affair that has a very retro vibe, and for good reason…
The Eels’ use of gold and blue has changed and fluctuated over the years – they were originally hoops – but in 1991 the team wore a half-gold, half-blue affair with a series of thin contrasting stripes dividing the jersey across the middle.
This shirt replicates the early 90s vibe of the original really rather well, right down to the half-solid, half stripy sleeves.
It’s not as original as the Eels’ eye-grabbing Auckland 9s shirt – which used the eel-pattern of the club’s near-70-year-old logo as a primary design motif, but this is still cool.
Combined with the home shirt, this is a pair of very handsome shirts, one rendered a little uninspiring by its repetition, another a refreshing replication of a classic shirt from Eels history. How very contradictory…
Review by Adam Rees