The Cumberland Throw

Sharks Analysis – Effort Areas

How has your week been Eels fans? Are you hanging in there?

I, like I’m sure the rest of you, have been on the end of a barrage of questions about our performance against Manly last week.

Whether it was a simple as a “What happened?” or whether it was a more personal, full-blown dress-down from opposition fans, I’m sure we heard it all – and one thing is for sure – it seems like everyone wants to re-commit to the ‘Parramatta are wooden-spoon material’ narrative.

Worse yet, as an Eels supporter, we get baited, as though we’re somehow accountable or answerable to what happens/ed – but the fact is, that’s rugby league.

If you’re off for even a minute or two in the National Rugby League competition, the consequences could be detrimental to the course of that match, and even your season. However, the flipside to that is, if you’re on for those periods, it could just be the play that sets up that match or your season.

Coaches are aware of this, and none more so than our own Brad Arthur – he refers to them as “effort areas”. Similarly, Cowboys premiership-winning coach, Paul Green, has been doing the same in recent times – but just what are effort areas in the context of rugby league?

Well given the unpredictable nature of the greatest game of all – such as the bounce of a ball, mother nature or just ridiculously, unstoppable freakish play from an opposition player – many things in rugby league can in fact, be controlled.

When we talk about those things that can be controlled, we are referring to “Effort Areas”

This include things such as line speed – the speed in which the defensive line moves up together to shut down the opposition; kick-chase – similarly moving up in a line together following a kick to limit the metres a kick returner makes; tackling in numbers – getting multiple players around the ball carrier to shutdown the play & prevent second-phase play; running in numbers – supporting the ball carrier when we’re in possession so that they not only have a passing option, but so the oppositions defensive players don’t have the opportunity to gang-tackle our ball-carrier.

Why are these things called effort areas? Because they’re largely attitude-driven. The most competitive teams do this, do this well and do this regularly. It’s something we in previous years had used to build our reputation, but have largely moved away from in the last one-and-a-half games.

Attitude: our key players will need it in spades to man-handle the Sharks tonight

Take a look at the Wests Tigers in their opening three-games of the 2018 season. Here’s a side (and club) that has largely been known for being defensively poor over the course of their history, adopting an “outscore the opposition” mantra, even if it means winning 40-38. They were not focused on their “effort areas”. However, over the course of one off-season they’ve addressed a large part of that. Now some of this has come through recruiting, some of it through the re-training, recalibration and re-focussing of their playing squad on their line speed, contact and kick chase., but it’s happened.

To date they have been playing patient footy with the ball in hand, and they back themselves defensively to hold their opposition out. Even though they lost last night, they kept the Broncos try-less – an incredible feat – and have only conceded two tries across three NRL games for 2-wins, 1-loss against three teams from the 2017 top-four!

So, what does that mean for us? Back to basics Eels fans.

When you’re on the end of an old-fashioned thrashing (and let’s face it – it was – we were very, very poor with a team that only a few months ago was a top-four NRL side in a position to challenge for the 2017 premiership) your performance isn’t the result of suddenly not knowing how to play. Your performance is the result of your attitude not being good enough, and as I said earlier, only a few minutes off the pace in the NRL can cost you – we were off the whole game – and moving forward, that’s just not acceptable.

Normally I would spend the next part of this article going into detail about individual players, the threats they pose to our defensive line and what we need to do in order to handle them to put ourselves in the best position for victory, but tonight is not about the Cronulla players or any other team that we may have been playing. Tonight, is about ourselves.

We have to put in a performance that shows we have addressed our effort areas, and I have no doubt that we will take steps forward on this front. It may not be enough for victory this evening, particularly against a Cronulla side with a determined forward pack that will also be trying to avoid an 0-3 start to the season, but it will be the measure of our performance.

Attitude wins games in the long run, but tonight, we have to win the attitude battle, and as fans, it’s our job to both support and help inspire this within our team. We know they can do it, they know they can do it. Now it’s just time to do it.

Wing-ing It: A move back to the flank beckons for Bevan French, will he enjoy the try-scoring success he did the last time he played there against the Sharks?

N.B: I’d love to know how a player like Trent Hodkinson, who wasn’t listed in the original 21-man squad, has been allowed to take his place in the Sharks side tonight. It seems to defeat the purpose of naming the 21-man squad every Tuesday, does it not? For Brian Canavan to say “a rigorous process was applied in ensuring the right outcome was reached” when he was asked to comment on Hodkinson’s inclusion, in my mind, simply isn’t enough.

As supporters, we support – and that includes the governing body – but we can only support when context is provided. A better explanation was required on this particular front.

How can you expect supporters to accept this outcome when it’s not further explained? What process has to be applied and outcomes met for this to take place?

By all means Cronulla, or another team (including our own) have every right to make these applications and to subsequently achieve these outcomes when they don’t have a player in the 21-man squad to replace someone who has succumbed to an injury like Matt Moylan did – we just want to know what those processes were and what criteria has to be met for a decision to be greenlit, and alternatively, what criteria has not been met when a request is knocked back?

It creates congruency, sets a precedent and engages the fans by communicating with and to them. Rugby league supporters are the NRL’s number one stakeholder and we should be treating them as such. This is by no means an attack on Brian, the NRL, Trent Hodkinson, the Sharks or anyone else – and I hope that it is not received in this way, I’m sure they have their perfectly acceptable reasons for reaching this outcome – all that we ask is that there is transparency and clear communication about the processes that exist behind these decisions.



All images courtesy of the Parramatta Eels, and Getty Images.

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17 thoughts on “Sharks Analysis – Effort Areas

  1. Big Derek

    As regards to Hodkinson big allowed to play, the NRL is pretty much Toddys Rules these days. In other words, no one else really understands how decisions are made
    The whole idea of the 21 man squad as to avoid wholesale changes and give fans a realistic idea of who would be playing. This has not been done in this instance, but as usual we will be treated as irrelevant and on we go.
    Not good enough and typical of the majority of recent decisions, from the so called player manager investigation to the registration of Lodge and/or Carney, and then Greenturd has the audacity to say he expected criticism and brushed it off. He is a politician rather than a leader.

    1. Clint Post author

      I won’t comment on personalities Derek, but it’s not unreasonable to expect congruency when it comes to processes, interpretation and decision making from the people who hold these positions. I’m sure that nothing below board happened in this instance, I just want to know the criteria that determines whether a player who wasn’t named in the original 21-man squad being allowed to play vs them not being allowed to play.

  2. Anonymous

    another very disappointing loss. We need changes, We have no punch in the middle and are struggling in the halves and out wide.
    Our edges need the ball, We didn’t hit the lead once. It was block for block.
    Absolutely disgusted

    1. Clint Post author

      Our lack of penetration on the edge is concerning. A large part of it is because in the games thus far we are playing too laterally. Mitch & Corey need to straighten it up. We look threatening when we play direct and have bodies in motion either side of our halves when they have the ball, but at the moment we can’t get there for those plays.

      Given the fact that we’ve played in 3-games (1-trial and 2 premiership games) in above 35 degree heat, and our 3 premiership games to date have seen us have less than 50% possession (40 or less if you don’t include the Penrith game), I would be looking to de-load the training efforts going into the Tigers game.

      We have a long turn around and need to take the opportunity to freshen up.

      1. Faye Smith

        You know it’s twenty yrs since Parra had a team of real footballers I thought this year was going to be different especially after last years effort.But by the look of things it’s not going to happen something is wrong they are not playing as a team.Remember no GUTS NO GLORY and that’s I think is their problem not playing as a team everyone are not hungry enough to win pull your socks up and do what the club is paying you to do…

  3. Realistic Eel

    You blokes who watch training sessions all off season are kidding. You think Brad Arthur is a great coach & the team are premiership material because they look the goods at training against tackle pads, empty space & Wenty players.
    Even though we finished top 4 last year we were extremely scrappy and disjointed in most of the games we won. We had a soft draw in the back half of the season. Now other teams have improved and our weaknesses have been exposed. Brad can’t justify a contract extension at end of this season with this crap so he’ll have to be shown the door. Two premiership winning coaches waiting for a call from Bernie…..Des or Madge.

    1. Clint Post author

      Realistic Eel, I can empathise with your passion, it’s clear you love your Eels (and as a fellow Eels supporter, I love you for that!), but it’s both futile and unwarranted to direct that energy towards the people who attend training. Like you, they’re supporters with a passion for our team and they report on what they witness.

      They don’t try to create or control any narrative, positive or negative, towards any particular personality or any particular outcome. They have nothing to gain by doing that. They’re just supporters who offer their opinion and report what they see.

      I can understand your frustration, we all have it mate, because we all want to see the team win. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t alive when we won our last premiership, so I’m right up there with the most hungry for success, and I’m jealous of those supporters who got to watch our high-flying premiership teams from the ’80’s, but it’s not fair you direct that frustration at the TCT contributors. It’s not as though they’re accountable to the results or what happens, we’re in the stands every week with you, cheering for the same outcome you are – so how about we channel the conversation down a path that offers what we believe could be solutions to the situation, instead of towards other supporters?

      Now it’s clear that we have to tinker with our strategy and style of play, because at the moment, it’s obviously not working. Whether that’s a new game plan, new personnel or a combination of both, we’ll have to wait and see – and what I would love to hear are your thoughts on how we can do that?

      1. Realistic Eel

        Clint, nothing personal against the TCT crew. You asked me what I think we should do to change things. The ruck this year is slower with the play the ball crackdown so our small fwd pack puts us at an obvious disadvantage. If we can’t dominate through the middle we need variety in our attack with set plays, offloads, bodies in motion etc. I said this last year our attack is so boring and predictable. BA needs help in this area. Most of our wins last year were very clunky. BA coaches effort and toughness but creativity in attack is something lacking. He needs an experienced assistant coach or he’ll fall on his own sword.

  4. Braeden

    We are dreadful! We are getting rolled through the middle, we can’t contain the other teams props! That is where we are losing the game. The halves and backs can’t do anything until the props set us a platform!!

    1. JJ

      Just dropping this note in JJ because I agree with your comments mate, but I have edited out Braeden’s profanities and personal attacks on players.
      I’ve left in your overall opinion Braeden but we won’t cop personal insults directed at players.

    2. Clint Post author

      Guys, I’m all for passionate discussion, but please, no profanities. You can articulate opinion without getting personal or attacking others.

  5. JJ

    I ask an honest question of the TCT, the loss of Ken Gentle the impact that has had and who has BA appointed as the replacement to Ken . We now have 1 try in over 200 minutes of 1st grade Rugby League ??.

  6. JJ

    Chief I actually used to like your commentary but now it just the same old and big deal you were there in the 83 GF. Many of us have been there for 76, 77 twice, 81,82,83 , 86, 01, 09 and travel interstate to watch our team play and have way more skin in the game than you do!!! and don’t even half whinge like you do!!!

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