The Cumberland Throw

Eels Training – March 1, 2018: The Selection Challenge

The advantage of being a regular at Eels training throughout the pre-season is the insight it provides in individual and team preparations for the year. You get a sense of who’s putting their hand up for selection, and the type of footy that the team is likely to play.

This year, it’s become obvious that BA and his staff have developed a system and a squad of players that are all capable of executing the structures and game plans each week.

Evidence could be witnessed in the Maitland trial last weekend. With a multitude of changes kicking in throughout the second half, including key spine positions, there was no interruption to team cohesion in both attack and defence. Indeed, a number of players who had been omitted from many discussions about team selections provided a timely reminder of their NRL credentials against the Knights.

Is there a definitive 17 that Eels supporters could expect to be named for the opening round against Penrith?

I had hoped to find the answer to that question at Eels training today. The opposed session at Saleyards only clouded my thoughts as both the Gold and Blue teams found moments of excellence in a tight contest.

Here’s how it played out:

First Half

It was all hands on deck for the first time this year, with every player, bar Tim Mannah, involved in the match. (Mannah was required for today’s NRL launch.)

It’s been a long rehab journey for T Rex

Tony Williams wore an orange shirt, which meant that he wasn’t involved in full contact. On the other hand, Siosaia Vave pulled on the Gold jersey, signalling his readiness to take a tackle.

The Gold team opened their account first, with Marata Niukore making full use of space on the right to launch himself into a 40 metre break. A couple of plays later Will Smith (playing in the halves) laid on the try which was duly converted.

The Blues replied soon after with quick hands inside the quarter creating the perfect opportunity for Bevan French to slice the Gold defence open.

Disappointingly, after crossing the line out wide, he was allowed to improve his position to ground the ball behind the posts. The conversion from Moses saw the scores levelled up.

Mitch Moses landed a penalty goal to complete the scoring for the half, with the play ebbing and flowing from this point but no team grabbing the ascendancy.

A superb heads up play from Will Smith requires mentioning.

The Blues were building momentum and pressure and forced a line drop out. It’s doubtful that the Golds could have held out the next set. Sensing the opportunity to find touch, a pinpoint accurate drop out from Wilbur crossed the sideline 30 metres out. Like he has done all throughout the pre-season, Smith kept himself involved throughout this contest.

Second Half

A couple of early tries, firstly to Takairangi, and secondly to Edwards, seemed to be signalling that the Blues would kick away from the Golds. Taka had completed the first half in the Gold team at centre, but then switched to the Blue in the second stanza.

During this half, Smith also had a run with the Blues. He would feature in the next try as a beautiful ball from Nathan Brown found Smith running a great line to launch himself into the Gold half. And who was backing up to finish off the try – none other than the man who started it, Brown.

Niukore was one of the stand-outs for the Golds today.

Kicking duties this half were assumed by Takairangi in an interesting role as second string kicker. Of course, Gutho and Moses are the first choice kickers, but it seems Taka has added the title of sharpshooter to a CV which already lists 40/20 expert as a demonstrated skill.

The opposed session concluded with an individual try to Marata Niukore. Receiving the ball out wide on the quarter line, the big forward/centre surged through the defence in an angled run that finished beside the posts.
Final score: Blue – 26 def Gold – 12

A Final Word

During the warm up and running mechanics at the start of the session, the players completed a series of sprints. Over the shorter distances, Jennings was on fire.

The interesting results came over 100 metres. Ray Stone appeared to win one race – or at least be in the top 3. In another race, Kane Evans seemed to lead the squad home.

Even bearing in mind that our front-on and end-on view did not make for the best vantage point to call a result, both players stood out in a group which primarily finished within only a few metres of each other.

It’s always brilliant to watch players bust a gut to give everything they’ve got.

Was this a perfect session?

No.

There was a bit for the coaches to work on in both attack and defence. That’s to be expected at this time of the year. However, the forwards saw a bit of swapping between the two teams, and in the main, the team cohesion remained.

After the pre-season, the Maitland trial and now this week’s training, I’m convinced that there’ll be plenty of healthy discussion as the coaches go about finalising the team for round 1.

Team list Tuesday should make for interesting reading.

Eels forever!

Sixties

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paul taylorsixtiesColin HusseyThe rev aka SneddenGrunta Recent comment authors
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Rob
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Rob

So, let’s get this straight, two forwards, including a BIG prop, lead the whole field in a 100m sprint? Man, I wish you had asked the coaches for their verdict(s) on who won.

Other than extremely notable point, Will Smith seems to be a man on fire in his showing for Parra. Is he a smokey to take a wing position or push French to a wing?

Rob
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Rob

*other than THAT

John Eel
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John Eel

I cant remember looking forward to team list Tuesday as much as I am now. There is a lot of hard decisions to be made between now and Tuesday and I don’t envy the coaches position. You have mentioned a couple of times that Evans is quick. In some ways he seems to have an awkward gate. Maybe it is just his long legs. Starting to feel positive about Evans, thought he was good when he came on at Maitland. I stopped listening to Talkin Sport a long time ago. Graeme Hughes lost me. Pappy is OK and Robertson sold… Read more »

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

John I also heard that interview with BA on talkin sport. I thought BA handled him self with aplomb.

What I heard from BA makes me think he is the right bloke in charge. Like you said he didn’t give much away except the (gutherson) returning in maybe rd 8/10.

I’m hearing a lot of teams are tipping us to take it out (NRL) comp behind roosters n storm.

#Eels4life#

Pou
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Pou

Top report, sixties. Thanks again

Braeden
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Braeden

The one thing that really does frustrate me is when I hear players so we really focusing on D this pre season then we play our first trial and nothing had changed from last year…. The winger or centre comes flying up out of the line trying to smash the five-eight ends up missing and just creates the over lap…. It happens every year at Parra and it’s so annoying why can’t BA see that this DOESN’T work. Watch Melbourne defend, the all go and “slide” they never ever “rush out” out the line they all just go up and… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

6 trys to 1 plus 3 not given and 1 bombed , not much rushing there mate .anyway head down to training and watch the work thats going on in that area mate .

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Great to see another of the big players ready for selection in Vave in the full gear.

No doubt Brown would have more of a spring in his step with his future at the eels settled.

Thanks for the report 60’s

Barney Bear
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Barney Bear

Thanks Sixties-as usual your report is both interesting and informative
Do you think Niukore is any chance of making the final 17 for round ?
He seems to have had a number of very positive mentions in your reports
Also, any word on who was the 29th member of the squad-with 1 having to be added to our previous 28 by March 1

Milo
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Milo

Great read sixites. I am concerned about Tepai, and maybe i should not be. Do you think he will be in our 17 next week? I hope so.
As Barney asked Marata seems to be going well, and i am interested on whether he will be an edge backrower? or even centre

John Eel
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John Eel

Milo he lined up at centre in Maitland. Maybe with all of the forward depth that maybe a better option at this point in his career

Milo
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Milo

Yes maybe mate but i think we need him as a fwd for the future. I also have queries about Taka being picked in the top 13, if he is picked there. Just my view but i am hoping Tep is in the top 17; even 13. It’s a hard one,

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Thanks for the great write up sixties. Much appreciated.

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

Good write up brother sixties. As for next weeks top 17 it’s as good as anyone’s quess.
I feel that last weeks team that played in the trial game will be very close to the starting team come rd1.

Tell me what do you think the chances are of niukore making the top 17 this year not just next week ?

My team for next week is as follows.

1. French
2. Avu’ua
3. Jennings
4. Hayne
5. Hoffman
6. Norman
7. Moses
8. Alvaro
9. King
10. Mannah (c)
11. Mua
12. Takarangi
13. Brown.

Bench.
14. Scott (c)
15. Evans
16. Moeroa
17. Edwards.

Reserves.

18. Matagi
19. Smith
20. Teripo.

#Eels4life#

Parramatta Tragic
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Parramatta Tragic

Another great read sixties. Thanks for your time. Looking over Rev Snedden’s team above, I like the bench but I would have Will Smith in the team instead of one of either Hoffman or Avu’ua. That leaves Smith, Hayne and French to roam and swap positions during the game. We can’t possibly leave out the opportunity for that Smith/Moses move close to the line. That’s the best move since Pringle/Lockwood or Reynolds/Quayle

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

PT I like most will love will smith in my side also bench. But after listening to BA the other day on 2sm talkin sport he did make it clear that he wants a 80min hooker nod stick with a 4 forward rotation. That’s the reason I had a forward bench. As for will smith playing wing I think not n we won’t use at fullback with French , Hayne , gutherson all playing there. Once gutherson comes back I would drop avau’a I like Hoffman as a winger. But In saying that ppl are forgetting Hoffman can also play… Read more »

Braeden
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Braeden

How did T-Rex go in the contact session? Was he running the ball hard like the Manly days or was he still using his “bump” like at the dogs?

Grunta
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Grunta

There will be a few boys feeling hard done by on Tuesday night and I predict that Peni will be one of them.
Geez he impressed in the trial. Brutal stuff and I hope we see the same when he gets his chance.

paul taylor
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paul taylor

Hi Mate

Rumour going around Hayne injured himself today at training….. any truth in that ?

Cheers