The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training – November 16, 2018: Who Can Take The King?

Thank goodness it’s Friday. I’m not so sure that those words would have been foremost in the minds of the Eels squad as they hit the training paddock today. It’s unlikely that they’d be celebrating too much tomorrow either!

This was a physically demanding field session – not a preferred method of easing into the weekend for most sane people. But this is an NRL pre-season and Parra players would probably be in good company when it comes to feeling the grind of November conditioning.

I missed close to the first hour of today’s session, but there was still more than sixty minutes of football and fitness work to be completed.

Without question, Clint Gutherson is in a class of his own. Behind him sits a group of players ready to take him on.

More on this to follow.

Conditioning

The emphasis looked to be on maintaining a higher running effort over shorter distances. The squad were completing sets of reduced distances – 800, 600, 400 and 300 metres – before undertaking 300 and 400 metre circuits.

These shorter distances may have even been more fatiguing than the longer runs, with little respite between the sets.

A period of these conditioning runs on the number 1 field was followed by opposed work on field two. As in previous days, the training alternated between the fields.

In this session, the conditioning was split into a backs group and a forward group.
This is where it got interesting as it was as if the younger, fleet-footed players had made a pact to take Gutho down.

Dunster tried to chase down Gutho.

An early contender in this endeavour was the apprentice – Jaeman Salmon. He tucked in just behind Gutherson in the early circuits. Though he wasn’t far off the pace, it was obvious that Gutherson had his measure.

Ethan Parry and Haze Dunster then looked to keep pace with Gutherson during subsequent runs. Yet every time that one of the young guns took him on, the King would just grind them into the turf.

Pride and work ethic are obviously key components of his performance, but physically he has a capacity that few possess. He hits his top speed fairly quickly, and can then maintain that pace over distance. This was seen in action in 2017 against the Dragons when he charged down a kick, regathered it, then ran away from defenders without appearing to change his pace. He doesn’t need an extra gear, he just keeps going.

But these Flegg graduates are competitive.

They’ll be looking to get his measure – and it’s obvious that having a team captain setting the standard, with a group of young players determined to catch him, can only be beneficial for the culture at training. This has manifested in the efforts of Norman and Moses. Over the years, Normz has never been anything less than professional in his efforts on the training paddock, but he and Moses seem to have found something extra right now in their track work.

Opposed

The surprising feature of the opposed work was the contact in defence. Whilst not as ferocious as an NRL match, it was certainly a long way from two hand touch or players easing into the tackles.

Big Junior created second phase footy

Players who found key moments in attack today included Bevan French, Reed Mahoney, Mitch Moses, Junior Paulo, Ray Stone and Jaeman Salmon.

The offloads from Paulo and Stone were classy and it was good to see Salmon chance his hand with a chip and chase over the fullback.

Unfortunately I missed the try scored by French but those who witnessed it informed me that it was a ripper, with the Bevan of old on display.

Final Thoughts

It’s encouraging to watch the Flegg graduates feel like they are part of the squad, and likewise watching the senior players treating them as peers augers well for the transition of youth into the top squad.

Davey is in new surroundings – NSW & the NRL.

It’s early days in the maiden NRL pre-season for the likes of Sivo, Davey, Parry, Brown, Dunster, Kaufusi, Schneider, Fainga’a and the Utoikamanu brothers, and their progression over the period leading up to Christmas will be interesting to observe.

Will the demands be too much or will they thrive?

This is where the orientation provided to the young players in the latter part of the 2018 season could prove to be crucial. The early mornings working with NRL staff have prepared the rookie group for what lies ahead. It will be interesting to observe how they handle the continued intensity.

Week 3 done and dusted.

Bring on Week 4.

Eels forever!

Sixties

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Jack
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Jack

Thanks for the report. Looking forward to hearing more about Sivo, I heard he’s recovering from an injury?

colin hussey
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Each report is a step up from the previous one, good stuff sixties and thanks, I am certainly encouraged in the way you have mentioned Gutho, and the pact of the young brigade to run him down. It shows to me the young ones have put a challenge to Gutho and he’s up to it, he along with your comments on Norms and Moses bodes very well for next year. Likewise with Jnr, he will be an excellent impact player and just what we needed. Last but not least its good to read about Bev, especially that its the player… Read more »

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

Sixties my son in the picture with junior Paulo who is the beast behind him ?

parrathruandthru
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parrathruandthru

Marata

Kim
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Kim

Nathan cayless he men

Tragiceel
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Tragiceel

Good write up Sixties, no mention of Shaun Lane, interested to know how he is going he had a great season at Manly.

rowdy roddy
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rowdy roddy

Having arrived at Friday session ~20 mins after it finished, I had the pleasure to have a chat with Shaun as he was leaving. I welcomed him to the club as a fan and we spoke for a few minutes about his career to date from junior rep star to Canterbury Bulldogs. He was honest about his own shortcomings in handling success at a very young age. Shaun was very open about the journey he faced since then, just learning how to be a professional footballer. He had an air of quite confidence about himself with not a hint of… Read more »

Big Derek
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Big Derek

Was fortunate enough to be at the Saleyards for the session, and the standout for me was the combative and competitive nature of the younger group. It’s possibly understandable that the 19/20 year olds would be ones chasing down Gutho, but noticeable was the much criticised Corey Norman who finished in the top 4/5 in each run. Some of the older players struggle at times in the time trials. The game was right in front of the bystanders, the hit ups were close to NRL standard. As Sixties said the pleasing thing was the form of the young studs, Oregan… Read more »

Milo
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Milo

As noted these reports get better and better Sixties and thanks to Derek.
Sixties do we know if the squad will be heading to the coast again? Or maybe somewhere else for a new visit?
I would be interested to know the thoughts about Ray Stone and where we see him in the squad in terms of position; as its been noted he has a tough edge.

West Coast Eel
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West Coast Eel

I love reading these reports. Keep them coming!

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

Looks like the King 👑 is in a league of his own when it comes to being fit. How do you see JP going on his fitness from all reports his training the house down.

Pete
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Pete

Great description of the action Sixties. I can’t help but think back to last years pre season (with reports Hayne finishing last) and how the perception of poor attitude or perceived favoritism. These perceptions or realities become infectious and destroy good morale and diminish team performance. Accepting poor effort from a highly paid senior player, imho, was very damaging and had a knock on effect last year. This year, it seems the enthusiasm of youth is being used to revitalize the stale attitude of last year. Based on recent news reports, I can’t help that a bullet was dodged. Can’t… Read more »

MattL
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MattL

I try to keep up with everything Eels related but I’ve obviously missed something… The Utoikamanu BROTHERS, there’s 2 of them!
Also wanted to comment that these reports do sound a lot more like the 2016/17 years rather than last year, so that’s promising. Any mention of a return to the infamous contact room?