The Cumberland Throw

Whisky Musings – Round 6: The Talk

Round 6 Drink Of Choice – Southern Comfort

Margin Of Error – 5 Games

 

For 5 weeks fans have patiently waited for the Eels to turn the corner. From the capitulation against Penrith in Round 1 and the belt down at Brookvale that followed right up until the last two weeks where the Eels finally showed some resilience but were ultimately undone but teams that simply executed the fundamentals of the game better. It has been an arduous and painstaking process for all involved. I don’t doubt for a second that the coaches and players are hurting every bit as bad as the fans but we have simply reached a point where changes have to be made. Let’s keep it short and sweet this week…the team needs to have ‘the talk‘.

 

Staying the course is no longer an option

 

Loyalty has proven to be an incredibly effective tool for Brad Arthur over the last two years. Against all odds he navigated the Eels to a winning season in 2016 (13-11) even as the club burned down around him amidst an exhaustive salary cap investigation. In 2017 Arthur backed his troops through a four game slump and with the arrival of Mitchell Moses he didn’t simply turn things around – the Eels were one of the best two or three teams down the stretch.

This year is different though. Loyalty has not won the day for Parramatta. They have lurched from loss to loss en route to a shocking 0-6 record. Even after showing something that resembles a backbone defensively in the last two rounds, the Eels are so far off the pace in regards to discipline and their offensive timings and structures that change simply must be brought about.

Change that must encompass multiple levels.

 

Nothing personnel personal

 

Starting with the playing roster, it is evident that something has to give. I am not going to sit here and tell you all I know the perfect line-up to guarantee the Eels a breakthrough victory but Arthur vowed to make changes if disciplinary issues were not addressed and here we are after conceding a whopping 15 penalties to the Canberra Raiders.

Regardless on whether you think the changes need to happen at hooker, half or somewhere in the pack – Arthur needs to look outside the current roster for any sort of spark, anyone that can be a catalyst to lift the lethargic pall that has fallen over the team.

With Jarryd Hayne, Brad Takairangi and Nathan Brown all scheduled to sit another week out the options aren’t as flush as they could be but between Top 30 options like Cameron King, Josh Hoffman, Will Smith, David Gower, Marata Niukore, Suiaia Matagi, Siosaia Vave and younger candidates like Reed Mahoney, Jaeman Salmon, Ray StoneDane Aukafolau and Greg Leleisiuao there is a permutation that has to be more effective than what Parramatta have fielded in Rounds 1-6.

 

Tactical shift

 

As much as our execution has dogged us this year, it is hard to argue against the notion that Arthur has his coaching staff need to change the paradigm in attack. Whether it is purely on the players for falling out of sync and executing structures they should know inside and out poorly, or if the new officiating interpretations have changed the meta-game itself – the Eels need to adapt.

From aiding the forwards by opening the ruck up more from dummy half to punishing teams for cheating heavily in their sliding patterns on the edges, Parramatta need to do their homework on the homework that has been done to them by other clubs.

Above all though, they need to find a method to actually have something that resembles efficiency in the red zone. For all their attacking woes this season, Parramatta have managed to somehow be one of the more productive teams in the NRL at forcing line drop outs. Despite that neat little fact they are yet to convert any line drop out into a try – which only reinforces just how deeply seated their issues are currently.

This self-scouting process falls equally on the coaches and the play-makers within the team and between them both they need find a tactical shift that will kindle the Eels to life in attack.

 

The King’s Court

 

While Clinton Gutherson’s return wasn’t the cure-all to Parramatta’s pitiful plight, he hardly looked like a man who had spent nearly a year in rehab overcoming a gruesome knee injury. As he returns to his peak form in the comings weeks, the Eels have to lean on his talents and find ways to keep him around the ball. He can’t turn the tide on his lonesome but is he most certainly one of the keys if Parramatta are to reverse their fortunes.

 

Beyond that, there really isn’t much to say folks. The Eels have run out of any excuse possible for their awful efforts on the field and we can no longer try to find the good in a tough or courageous loss. Change has to come for the Eels and they desperately need to remember the kind of team they have shown themselves to be over the last two years.

 

Just about only fresh thing about the Eels right now is what my man Parramatters has for you at SportFirst Nambucca. New in stock this week is this sharp looking tactical hoodie, so hit up the link below to get a damn good offer and support one of the little guys in doing so.

 

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Big Derek
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Big Derek

The time has come for some brutal honesty in relation to the roster, which simply overachieved in 2017. We simply lack a NRL quality 9, there is no threat to run from either of our current options, salivate at what Riddell, PJ Marsh , Kingston and the oft injured Peats offers from that position. Neither would get a start at any other team. Given the nonsense surrounding players outside the Greenberg inflicted top 30, seems Mahoney will be denied the chance to show his wares, he was very effective during the time on field at Maitland. The forwards need to… Read more »

DDay
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DDay

Hi BD – IMO the quality 9 isn’t the issue, though agree Kaysa is not NRL quality. Part of ‘the talk’ includes tactics, we’ve won a high percentage of games with King at #9 because he provides early ball wide of the ruck, however with the new 10m interpretation he isn’t an 80 min option. Rotating King with Smith provides an attacking spark currently missing just like bringing on PJ Marsh/Kingston used to. This means a change of tactics and longer minutes from the middle forwards. And agree 40s, the Eels desperately need to adapt and this includes personnel changes,… Read more »

Chris
Admin

The 2017 performance now looks like an overachievement against sides who met at the right time. My recollection of last year was there were few 80 minute performances and many games were close even against poorer opposition like Tigers, Dogs and Souths. You may argue about the Brisbane game, which I still have on IQ and must have watched a dozen times. That was a Semi master class against a very loose Brisbane. Sure we had a red hot go against the Storm and BA should be congratulated for his tactics that day. The boys almost pulled it off until… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Agree

Milo
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Milo

Good comment 40 and Big D. Decisions need to be made on and off the field it seems. Leadership also seems one are too.

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Forty’s. Maybe a good start for change could be with the captains. I am not sure having two separate players that perhaps interchange with each other, or at times very close owing to our 2 captains being in 2 different positions, is something that really works any more. We need to look at having a single 80 minute player made the captain, but who? While I would like Brown to have the role, there is a case for a back to be put in that role or perhaps VC in conjunction with Brown, maybe MJ owing to his experience. Whoever… Read more »

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

It’s time that brad stops this bs with 4 forward bench …it’s simply not working. For mind I think it’s time we blood fresh new talent along with experience players. This tried n tested method is not working. As I said to brother hussey in a blog I said Brian smith (2001) had his bench the way BA should have his. (2018). He BA needs to go with a bench hooker. On current form I’d drop Norman to Wenty … His mind is not on the job from the games I’ve seen. Manu can join him. Bring in vave. Manu… Read more »

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Rev, I can’t see Brown playing as his ankle will need another week, Tepi has another head knock and believe he will need a week off (at least), How much has Hoff played in the centres?, me I would like to see some radical changes. 1: Guth Cap 2: Hoffman/Hayne 3: Akafolou 4: MJ 5: French 6: Salmon 7: Moses VC, after dressing down and told to play natural game. 8: Matagi 9: Mahoney 10 Mannah 11 Niukore 12 Gower 13: Stone 14: Pritchard/Smith 15: Williams 16: Alvaro 17: Edwards With Brown back he goes to Prop and Stone stays… Read more »

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

I forgot about alvaro … If browns out then have alvaro at lock. If I’m correct a game last year were he played lock his number were very good. Something like run metres 141 tackles 41 3miss tackles n 1try.
For mine Kenny should be very lucky his still in the side.
His doing what sefa paulo was doing the side running like a grab. Coach needs to tell forwards to run straight.
Brother hussey as for Timmy it’s time he starts from the bench his not bending the line anymore I think his days are numbered as a starting prop.

Rowdy
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Rowdy

Rev. Timmy made more runs and metres than any forward on the park last week! His post contact leg drive has improved dramatically. The only negative for Timmy is I don’t think he can get up to that standard week in week out anymore.
I would also relieve him of the Capt’s responsibility which would allow him to concentrate on his own game and also be rotated off the bench when BA sees fit?

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Salmon ??? Have you ever seen him play ,howdo people pick teams without proper knowledge

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Mate have actually been and watched fat lazy turnstile vave at wenty , kidding .

Rowdy
Guest
Rowdy

Very creative and imaginative Rev. Although I would give Gennings another opportunity to grow into an nrl player while we await the return of Hayne “on the wing”. I would toy with the idea Jaeman Shark at 5/8 so at loeast we have a specialist half to replace another specialist half in Norman.
Gower, Mannah and Matagi would be a sensible selection for Moeroa and Brown who are both injured whilst I don'[t agree that we Pritchard on the bench if he is replaced as starting hooker.

Gazzamatta
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Gazzamatta

I dont believe there will be many changes. As BA said “the effort was there.” That said, if Gower and Marata dont get their opportunity this week then its abundantly clear they never will. I much prefer King to Kaysa but I cant see BA bringing him back. He seems to have a thing for Kaysa. Are we still waiting for him to realise his potential? If BA just wants him there to defend then there are players better equipped for that role. If French was playing as instructed theres no response to that. If he wasnt he should be… Read more »

Chris
Admin

Gazza I see it the same way. Manu, Tepai and Bevan have to go. I am a big Tepai fan but something is not right with his continued head knock and he should spend a week or two in the stands. Manu isn’t even a shadow of himself and I can only assume he is injured because he is / was better than this. Hoffman would have to be a better go than French based on his effort on Saturday night. If Gower and Marata don’t play this week, they never will. My view on the halves is if somehow… Read more »

Shelley
Member

I respect all the different opinions but I simply ask this. Would any half do well behind this pack? Moses is playing no better then Norman. Putting Norman to Wenty essentially means we are saying for him to leave. All I say is be careful what you wish for. The grass is not always greener on the other side. This time last year we were all saying get another half as having only one makes Norman a target. Now we all say he is hopeless and must go and we want to get rid of a half and replace him… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

As usual sensible reply ,and the right one .

mitch
Admin

Shelley absolutely nails it. I agree with every word.

mitch
Admin

Despite my complete agreement, let’s play Devil’s Advocate. If our forwards are to blame, why can’t we score in the opposition 20?

Penrith rushed our outside backs every spread, and halves couldn’t respond. And to come full circle, our lack of middle punch didn’t threaten them, making their choice easy.

Sam
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Sam

I think it’s fair to criticize our forwards for the most part but we DID dominate Penrith as far as possession & field position are concerned . Plus we created chances against the Raiders for the back line to work inside the opposition 20. The forwards have been sub-par and the penalties conceded are inexcusable. But it is also fair to criticize our halves, whether there has been a good platform laid or not Norman still misread the Austin dummy and made what 9 mistackles? How many runs? He is not putting in or measuring up either. Moses and his… Read more »

Shelley
Member

Like you I don’t think our backs are without blame. I think we have a one dimensional forward pack ( Brown of course is exempt) Hard working (mostly) second rowers. We don’t lay a damaging platform- making 8-10 a hit up is no good if you can not get a quick play the ball. This is were statics can be misleading. If I am the opposition I want Alvaro, Mannah or Scott hitting the ball up in the attacking 20. They will make 8-10 metres but they have no footwork, no offload or no short passing game and therefore are… Read more »

Sam
Guest
Sam

Fair enough, thanks Shelley. We will hopefully see some change and vast improvement soon.

mitch
Admin

Agreed with you until you said “that is the only time I have seen Manu run a good, strong line this year”, I counted two against the Raiders on the weekend, let alone other games.

Your overall point still stands nonetheless, and is a very good one. I think the beneficial variation added by T-Rex was there for all to see in Round 5, and thus further cements the validity of what you’re saying.

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

Mitch iyo if there is no changes made tomorrow n we lose by a big score again would you call BA in your HQ n read him the riot act ….

BDon
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BDon

Like you, I’ve been trying to watch for what works. My example came from the Tigers on the weekend where, in Manly 20, their backs tried a really deep formation, almost sweeping towards the sideline, all done at speed. Result was Manly’s D line was in 2 minds – rush up or just hold and match off. Brooks and Marshall saw the decision making and sliced them up. Our plays are getting destroyed by fast moving defences. The refs are pinging blokes near the ruck but centres seem to have more rope. Interesting to note that the master of 20… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Our forwards wouldnt pass a vehicle on the motorway let alone a footy and barring peni the entire front row couldnt run through a thick custard , no go forward or offloads and the halves might as well stay in the shed , the problems up front !!!!!!!!

Faye
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Faye

We. Just play the same way every week and every club knows it .Dont they a change is as good as a holiday .

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Good call Rev, I retract re Norms, but he along with his 7 side kick need to start running straight, and that is not sideways. If they are to be link pins between forwards and backs, then they need to sharpen their pins, as they are pretty blunt ATM.

The Captain
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The Captain

Great read Shelley, and I must admit it’s made me rethink my own perhaps too-hasty push for Norman to get the boot. You’ve raised some really solid points.

I’m still struggling to understand whether our back has gone backwards this year or whether the game has simply moved on – I guess what I’m getting at is:

What does it take to fix our pack?

mitch
Admin

I’m no Shelley, but we either need to add more variation personnel wise or (the more currently realistic option) – our pack is designed to punch holes, get quick play the balls and give our halves and backs room against retreating defences. In defence our quick line speed ideally blunts the momentum of the opposition pack.

Neither is happening currently. If we can get back to that, we’ll find more success, but it doesn’t negate the need to fix it for 2019 and beyond IMO.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Good one Shelley got in one ☝️ well said ..

Rowdy
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Rowdy

Absolutely Shelley, absolutely sane and logical. I am also glad you gave no oxygen to the argument of some that we should include another bloke who is also “not an NRL standard halfback” but should replace one who is because he works hard and is an excellent stopgap or #14!

Well said Shelley.

Fathead
Guest
Fathead

I will be VERY VERY surprised if Brad changes the team. Everything he has done in the last 6 weeks is against it. He should have changed the team after round 3 but instead gave a whole lot of promises and threats and has done nothing. I’m willing to bet that there may be a sacrificial forward who is in and out of the team that may feel the tap on the shoulder but what this team requires is a statement – a big player who is dropped. I’m sorry – but I just don’t think Brad has it in… Read more »

Grunta
Guest
Grunta

Why has the coach fallen so far behind the others with all the tactical nouse of season 2015?. Why has his recruitment been the worst in the league? Why does our coach persist with bargain basement signings and no young but big name players? Why does our coach keep signing over the hill players, past their prime? When does it get to the point that the coach gives a couple of young blokes a shot? Why should any fan continue to watch and support such an inept team and follow such an inept club? Why are we 11m in the… Read more »

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Easy fix ,follow someone else , quitters arent missed

Grunta
Guest
Grunta

Lol 37 year supporter and still supporting this club after absolute inept management both on and off the field for years and no premiership since 1986.
Yep, quitter right here…

Colin Hussey
Guest
Colin Hussey

Grunta, the big why from me is Why is that basically the same team that went well last year and could follow the coaches directions, who look fit, can fail the way they have in the new season? We still basically have the same team, as last year, except Semi, and I don’t buy the idea that his loss means we cannot win, he was not the only reason we won last year. French being deemed a dud also to be sacked after one game back from injury, is very harsh also, maybe he should have come back in a… Read more »

Grunta
Guest
Grunta

Agree with all of your points Colin.
I’m at a loss re the same team but playing so poorly too. The only possible explanation I can see is that maybe things have happened between the playing group we are not privy too and possibly roster changes coming up which certain players aren’t in support of?
Two rookies and Gower is a great start.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I was thinking much the same Colin. Most are saying we lack size..We have the same size as last year. Are all the other sides bigger this year? Is their a statistical correlation this year or any other year saying size is a factor on where you end up in the Premiership. ? Do we have the smallest pack this year? I would suggest other factors are at play– not sure what they are

Tad
Guest
Tad

That anon Is Tad Colin not sure about how this site quite works at this stage

Colin Hussey
Guest
Colin Hussey

Tad, there is a bit different now, I have some funny issues happening such as many of the posts going into the Junk mail folder in my email folder.

Colin Hussey
Guest
Colin Hussey

MIchael, replace all those forwards coming off contract, will be made easier with trying younger players this year that are able to play NRL, plus targeted imports.

Thing is that even decent older players can contribute, look at Marshal at the Tigers, and Maloney and Penrith, Marshal the way he is playing could go another year or two. Players we have such as Gower who always played his all, and sadly has not played this year are worth keeping for another year, but he needs to get some match time in very soon.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

This year is gone already and we are playing so badly I cannot be bothered to watch the game all the way thru. How can the Bulldogs be an extremely poor team against the Raiders and then play good football the next week against a very poor Cowboys side? Why can’t Parra do this, instead we’ve been rubbish all year. Atm Parra will fight for the spoon with the Cowboys, who would have thought? We need a complete rebuild and BA needs to sit down with his assistants and have an honest assessment of our roster. Simply put most of… Read more »

Peter Johnson
Guest
Peter Johnson

Hi all I am a bit late. Could the major problem be Ronnie Palmer moving to the Tigers. It seems not a coincidence that the Tigers have improved dramatically and the Eels have lost all form. The Tigers on paper have a worse roster than last year. The Parra roster is nearly the same as last year. The AFL style training does not prepare you for the one on one impact in defence and attack.

The Captain
Guest
The Captain

What AFL style training are you referring to Peter? Just because our fitness coach came from a gig in the AFL doesn’t mean he’s using the same regime with our players. Fitness coaches are likely to be trained in sports science, they should be able to code hop with relative ease I’d assume.

Milo
Guest
Milo

Is BA doing too much? He does defence and coaching; we have not replaced Gentle. May be a minor one but maybe some fresh eyes could have helped…..as for team, some new fwds to replace a few i think.

The Captain
Guest
The Captain

Good question Milo. It’d be great to see our coaching staff as a whole, who plays what role/s and how that compares to other rosters in the NRL.

I have tried searching around but the makeup of our coaching staff doesn’t seem to be published anywhere whereas some other teams have it up on their websites.