The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training – February 11: Alice Springs Edition

As ridiculous as it seems, the players left behind in Parramatta were probably facing hotter conditions today than those who’ve travelled to Alice Springs. With a 7am start at Saleyards, the worst of the heat was avoided, but there was no escape from the brutality of the training. There may have been no game time for some of our stars this weekend, yet there’s every chance those playing in Central Australia will be doing it easier than these blokes were at Eels headquarters.

Full On Skills and Conditioning

After working through their warm ups, Joey Grima took a group of ten of our stars into a game of forward touch. This is one of the most popular games that the players begin training with. It’s basically touch football with forward passes permitted. There’s plenty of fun and laughs but it certainly continues the warm up process.

From there the group moved into a 5 on 5 drop off drill. In this drill, two teams of 5 are opposed, and after one team is given possession for 5 tackles against the other team, the defending team starts to drop off players. ie 5 on 4 for 4 tackles, 5 on 3 for 3 tackles, 5 on 2 for 2 tackles. Possession is then swapped.

There was plenty of fun banter and sledging with Gutho and Beau taking up Normz’ mantle for dishing out some funny one liners. We even ended up being the target of a few words after signalling an out play in a highly contentious call. In amongst the hard work and laughs, we witnessed the tight bonds within the group.

Beau Scott – a leader on match day and at Saleyards

This drill was exhausting, especially in the conditions, but there would be no respite. Ronnie Palmer had a little fatiguing to lay on these blokes. More up and down. Collisions with tackle pads. Reminders about body language, no weak links, finding something more. The players found their voices, encouraging each other. This is what BA will be looking for in those moments, late in the match, when the game’s on the line. It’s what the Eels are preparing for. And it’s stirring to watch.

Then, just when the players thought they were done, it was time to move into the sand pit for some contact/wrestling. Imagine being exhausted and covered in sweat, then having to get hit in the sand like that! From our perspective, we’re glad they did – it’s not often that you get to see Beau Scott deliver impact like that up close.

Vave and Pritchard – Putting Kilometres In The Legs

I doubt that there’s ever a time when Frank Pritchard isn’t smiling. As Geoff posed the question  as Pritchard and Vave strode past us and said hello, Frank’s response was typically good natured – “give me ten minutes of this!”

There’s that smile!

He wasn’t kidding. Both of the big fellas had few breaks from running for the entirety of the session. After about 30 minutes, their perspiration gave the appearance that they had just emerged from a swim. By this time, it was difficult to tell whether it was a smile or a grimace on Frank’s face. I suspect he was still smiling – it’s in his DNA!

Both of these big units will feature heavily in the Eels pack this year. They’ll strip fitter than they have for some time and the blue and golds will reap the benefit. I’ll not forget the hard work they’ve put in to get to this point.

Author’s Note

This was one of the smallest groups of players that I’ve witnessed at training, but it was one of the most gruelling. Perhaps it was the conditions. Perhaps it was the sweat pouring off each bloke. The early morning mattered little. It was a tough hit out to start the weekend.

With Forty and Geoff attending the session, the time passed quickly with plenty of footy talk and observations about the effort the squad has put into this season. We had all made plans to get to Belmore for the junior reps, but the cancellation of the first round made it possible to be at Saleyards for this early training run. A shout out to staffer, Luke, who joined us for a chat after his duties were done.

On a personal note, I was pleased to be able to catch up with Manu Ma’u for the first time in 2017. We discussed my recent post and his background with Suaia Matagi. He really is a humble man. All Eels fans can look forward to what the two of them will deliver this season.

Eels forever!


All images courtesy of Parramatta Eels



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Parra Pete, Hay

Sweltering in 47 degree heat in Hay..but no humidity.
Feel so much for the players and the effort they are putting in.
I used to be of the opinion these blokes were overpaid. Reading your posts Sixties, I don’t envy or begrudge them one bit…
Terrific read (just the old proof reader coming out in me – The headline says January..not February..sorry for pointing it out..


Hi Sixties, hope all is well at your end….thanks for another great read!
Was Norms and Kenny training with the main group or the rehab group?
BTW, got my tickets for the Panthers trial next Saturday, all tickets are General Admission so its First in, best dressed. Gates open at 10.30am so will be there early to get seats in the Grand Stand. Let me know if you need to be save any seats.


No Norman or Kenny or Semi. Reckon they are in Alice to do the promo stuff while the trial is on


maybe not Semi due to his court appearance but he wasn,t at training


Cheers mate!

Colin Hussey

Well, how can one understand the game especially training in this heat? I suppose that with the kick of for 2017 the temp may not get much cooler for some time, with the players coping unfriendly heat after than rather than the sort of frenziedly heat that training brings out.

Anyone doing a live blog on the trials tonight?

Colin Hussey

sad, not on FB or the twits so will just have to wait for match reports.


Good read again mate. Thank you.surely by now parra have seats for you and the guys? Smart move to give the boys a run so early. I was out this time and it was already getting warm, but not too bad.
Frank and Vave will be key additions to our season.


Thanks again for this report TCT.
The countdown is on baby! 3 weeks to go and we will see what BA has up his sleeve and so too our new recruits. Can’t wait!

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