The Cumberland Throw

Eels Training – March 6, 2018: Premiership Mode

Over the previous four months I’ve waxed lyrical about the pre-season preparations undertaken by the Eels. Like all clubs, the team has stepped up on previous years. That’s the nature of the beast – if you don’t aim to step up, how can you possibly improve on the previous year?

Though the benefits of a tougher, smarter pre-season should be revealed throughout the season, the work of the last few months is now consigned to history. From here on, Parramatta’s training will focus on preparing for their next opponent.

The players are keeping some kilometres in the legs.

There’s still running mechanics incorporated in the warm up. There’s still conditioning as the players are regularly pushed to a certain level of fatigue before and during opposed sessions. But each coming week must prepare them to be at their physical and mental best on game day.

Training becomes an art form as the turn around varies. Recovery, training, time off and a captain’s run all have to be fitted into this 5 to 7 day period between matches. This is why there are so many critics of Brisbane featuring regularly on Friday night football. It’s not so much to do with prime time saturation – though that is beneficial. It’s the advantage found in the stability of a regular 6-7 day interval.

Fortunately the Eels will enjoy a “Broncos-esque” draw in 2018, with only the single 5 day turn around before the round 15 clash with the Rabbitohs.

Another advantage for Parramatta’s training in 2018 is the depth of the squad.

Cam King has earned the first shot as Eels dummy half

NRL clubs now boast thirty man rosters plus six development contract players. The Eels pack goes so deep into the roster that, depending on injuries, some players on NRL contracts might start from the bench at Wenty at different points throughout the season.

The advantage of such depth is that any opposed session pits the NRL team against quality opposition on the Saleyards training paddock. These players can read the attack or challenge the defence of the top 17. Under instruction, they can simulate pet plays used by other NRL teams. It’s quality preparation.

The Eels have begun this week’s preparation with a healthy dose of ball skills and opposed work. They’ve been solid in their execution and it’s looked like serious business, with banter only creeping in during some grid drills.

Monday concluded with a captain’s talk from Tim Mannah. Arthur, Murf and Joey Grima step aside during these moments. As BA said to us one week – “they can’t just be hearing my voice, I won’t be out on the field with them on match day.”

However, Arthur’s voice featured prominently during Tuesday’s session. Firstly he led the forwards in a series of defensive drills. It’s a privilege to hear BA coach the players through their positioning, their movements, and the factors that should guide their decision making. Players are encouraged to have a voice in these discussions, as they seek clarification or add their opinion.

Finally, Arthur directed the opposed work, with Joey refereeing and Murf encouraging, pushing and praising the troops.

I do have an overall observation, confirmed through the pre-season and the trial, and it’s this:

Parramatta have one of the most balanced squads in the NRL. It’s a squad four years in the making, and in years to come we’ll become familiar with the term “Parra footy” – because that’s the brand of football the team will play

Tim Mannah links with Danny Alvaro in an opposed session.

The Eels have an underrated pack of forwards – blokes who will work well as a unit, play for each other, and have a bit of mongrel in their approach. But don’t take them for granted. They’ve spent the pre-season up skilling. Outside them, it’s an undeniably classy and versatile backline. Arguably the most potent in the competition. The loss of Semi has well and truly been compensated for via the recruitment of Hayne.

I’m expecting the forwards to get plenty of plaudits for their efforts on Sunday against the Panthers. They’ll pave the way for those flashy fast men to show their wares. Those who’ve seen the forwards as a weakness will get a surprise this year.

Brad Arthur On NRL360

After watching Arthur’s impressive appearance on Monday night’s episode of NRL360, I’m convinced that he’s not just one of the most talented coaches in the game, he’s fast becoming one of the most respected.

Brad Arthur

Undoubtedly, 2016 was a massive learning curve when it came to dealing with the media. Nothing can prepare you for a season like that. BA took plenty of the press conference heat that year for issues beyond his control, but handled it with increasing confidence and strength.

His unwavering support of his players and loyalty to the Eels won a swag of admirers amongst supporters. Winning games in spite of the surrounding chaos spoke volumes about BA’s leadership and the culture being created at the club. It typified the resilience of Arthur and garnered the respect of the league community.

On Monday night, BA fielded questions about Hayne and Norman, about team selections, about his own development as a coach and about meeting expectations for this year. He’s only entering his fifth season as an NRL head coach, but he answered questions like a seasoned veteran – minus the cliches. I’d be interested in how other supporters viewed this appearance.

Of course, media commitments aside, the most important factor for Eels supporters has been the resurgence of the club under our coach.

At the end of his current contract, Arthur will sit second – behind only Brian Smith – for most games in charge of the Eels.

I’d like to think it’s still early days in his tenure.

As for the footy, I’m thinking of it in my own terms – only two more training sessions till match day!

Eels forever!

Sixties

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Pou
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Pou

Wow that’s a hell of a statistic. Have we really had so few long term coaches that Arthur is soon to be number two for most games coached at Parra? That would go a long way to explain our lack of success over the decades.

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

Good read sixties. Can you give us a stat showing our past 5 coachs n how many games they have been in charge of the eels.

I know smith was in charge for almost 10 years. Can u also give stats on our top 5 longest serving coachs. I can’t wait till Sunday I’m pumped n think we are in for a massive yr.

#Eels4life#

Anthony
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Anthony

I watched that NRL360 interview and was also impressed with his candidness but also his ability to say a fair bit with so few words. Frankly, I think he may be over answering questions about Hayne, but he does so without any hassle or fanfair. He oozes confidence and that rubs off on the players I’m. One thing I did notice, not sure if many did, was his body language as the camera panned out going to the break. I’m not sure he’s a fan on Paul Kent (who is?) and for me this was evident. He turned away from… Read more »

Yaya
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Yaya

Sixties has something happened re guthos injury that has caused his return date to be pushed back or is it just precautionary?

parrathruandthru
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parrathruandthru

Gutho’s return has always been round 8. Any earlier times mentioned was the internet experts never from the club

Rowdy
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Rowdy

G’day Parra, that’s any interesting perspective? I would never have considered myself an internet expert! In fact my children and their children call me a dinosaur. Perhaps I should take up the challenge?

But all jokes aside, I did say that I believed Gutho would be back MUCH earlier. There must be scans/tests available with more critical analysis of the damage repair progress with these type of injuries that we are not privy to.

We hear far too often, players “coming back too early” from serious injury.
Go Gutho!

John Eel
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John Eel

Sixties the six development contracts that I assume are under the salary cap along with the 30 contracted players, what is the minimum salary for these players?

Anonymous
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Anonymous

When you observe the penrith pack and bench its totally understandable that ba has gone with the bench minus will smith etc .

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Thanks for a wonderful summary and report 60’s on both training and the coach, worth more than one read to take it all in, very interesting re the coaches and their times at the club. What was Ian Walsh’s numbers? my books are packed ATM. The more I look on the way the club is going it provides me with more confidence with any time in the past. The days when the emperor was pushing for change and in his final years as a player, was the same but, certainly not the intensity of today. I stood for the board… Read more »

Clive
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Clive

Great write up mate and I can’t wait for the season to start. I thought Brad was great on Monday night and it made for interesting viewing. He is one of the rare coaches that is honest in interviews and I think it’s because he is confident enough in his ability to not feel as though he has to play ducks and drakes with the media for fear of giving away his big secret. The thing I love about Brad is that he is a Parra guy and so is his family. You just can’t get that kind of passion… Read more »

JJ
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JJ

Credit to all the TCT team for keeping us in the loop on another preseason which is done and dusted.
Now the mighty Blue & Gold start to play for keeps in what looks like a season where we should be contenders in every game. I wouldn’t expect BA, the coaching staff or the playing group to expect anything less

DDay
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DDay

Good points Sixties about a balanced squad. There wasn’t a lot of recruitment but we do seem to have more depth in the forwards, backs and halves.

Looking forward to “Parra footy”

Trouser Eel
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Trouser Eel

Poor coaches. They say you rent them, rather than making the commitment to buy.
If BA was a car, which one would he be? I’m thinking strong and reliable – a range rover perhaps?

Rowdy
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Rowdy

Well Trouser without being boastful but feeling the need to substantiate my selection by extensive personal comparisons which I have lovingly experienced, I’ve owned a Range Rover, a Damlier and a Jag, Nissan Patrol and a few Holden utes and a Panel Van, a couple of Mercs along with a raft of fancy, fast and flashy wheels over the last 48 years on the road, but the most reliable and strong vehicle we have ever had is my wife’s VS 2002 V8 Holden Statesman. She drove it to Woolongong to visit her 91 year old Dad today. It is a… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

So what do you think Trouser.

If Kearney or Stuart were a make of car, would you call them a Lada or a Great Wall?

The Russian built Lada is appropriate for Kearney …. they always broke down under pressure ….

The Great Wall motor vehicles . Perfect for Stuart. Why? They look all good and flashy, giving you a sense of great things ahead, but once you take one out of the car yard, you realise you’ve bought a lemon!!

Milo
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Milo

Sixties; very interesting stats re the coaches. BA will have a very strong recod i believe when he hangs up the clipboard. It will also say something for the club overall, as without the overhaul we as a club have had i do not believe things would be as good. I liked Smithy but he was here too long.
I would have BA as a a retro type Torana like my mates had in High School; small in stature but strong under the bonnet and with a huge motor.

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

Just a quick question sixties. With out giving away your age how long have you been a eels fan ?

Parramatta Tragic
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Parramatta Tragic

Another great column and thanks for the entire off season sixties. We have the right coaching staff, the right players and the right Jersey. Confidently predicting we will win the comp for no other reason than we want to. Everyone has bought in