The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training – November 19, 2018: The Buy-In

For most supporters, the break between seasons feels like an eternity. For the Parramatta Eels players, they’ve now commenced Week 4 of the pre-season. Time flies for professional footballers.

I have to confess – the pre-season arrived just in time for me. The 2018 season took its toll on my positivity, and the off-season media coverage was doing little to help with my mindset.

However, the enthusiastic buy-in from the squad has been a great tonic.

Given my history of reporting training sessions since 2014, and finding a team consistently preparing well, I should probably clarify the early difference between this year and others.

Brad Arthur

Back in 2014, Brad Arthur inherited a beaten up squad of wooden spoon footballers. The coaches incorporated fun into training via games. They literally had to make training an enjoyable place to be. This was achieved (and I borrowed a couple of these games for my school coaching).

Each year thereafter found reasons to be optimistic. The 2015 season came off a much improved 2014. The 2016 season would see marquee recruit Foran added a strong squad. The 2017 season would give the team the chance to prove that they would have been worthy finalists in 2016 if not for the salary cap scandal, whilst 2018 saw many experts tipping the club for a top 4 spot.

Moving into 2019, the same coaches and much of the same squad are looking to launch into the new season – unfortunately as reigning wooden spooners. This is new territory for the playing group and new territory for Arthur to be the incumbent coach in a spoon team.

Like many other fans, trying to find motivation from a disaster was a challenge for me. My posts might carry a buoyant sentiment, but the other TCT fellas will testify that my mood was anything but that.

The big question – How do the Eels reboot?

They can’t go back in time and treat training like they did in 2014. After all, the team are good trainers and they trained well throughout 2018 (as they had in the years before) but couldn’t deliver in matches. Last year, I questioned whether there was a psychological basis to the match day yips.

Fainga’a – part of the next generation.

Fortunately, the reboot has already been in evidence in the first few weeks of this pre-season. It’s one based on working hard to win your spot. I’ve referenced it in previous reports – the inclusion of talented, ambitious youth in the full-time squad is exactly what was needed as it’s driving competition, and everyone is sitting up and taking notice. As one of the players said to me today, “We’ve been playing together since we were 16. This is what we want.”

I’ll make no prediction of season performances, because as things stand, this is only training and we still need to see a couple of these blokes moved into the Top 30.

Nonetheless, I’m also pleased to have found cause to be more bullish in my reports than I expected.

Here’s how this morning’s field session went down.


There’s a tough love that exists between trainer Adrian Jimenez and the players. He accepts no shortcuts or excuses. He has high expectations, borne out of his many years with the Storm, and drives the players to find something more.

The work on Field 1 featured plenty of movement up and down the field, as well as sets of 400, 300 and 200 metre runs.

Dylan Brown

It’s starting to sound like a broken record with the best performers – Gutherson, Dylan Brown, Parry, Dunster, Mahoney, Norman and Smith all featured near the front of their groups. At one stage it looked like Dunster was going to take Gutherson over 200 metres, but the King couldn’t be dethroned.

I was able to spend about five minutes or so with Jimenez after the session. As we discussed the impressive efforts of the young players and how invested they are in meeting and bettering set standards, right on cue the players came over to him to check on their results.

They are undoubtedly throwing down the gauntlet.


As usual, the squad was split into two groups which alternated between the two fields. The skills work occurred on Field 2.

The skills group began with unopposed sets, working through attacking shapes in a typical set of six. Some sets began from a kick return whilst others were from a scrum.

Corey Norman

Experience and youth were divided between the groups. Norman and Brown were the halves in one group, Moses and Salmon were the halves in the Other. I didn’t read too much into the splits.

Later work saw an emphasis on defence, with attacking plays starting just outside the 20 metre line throwing questions at both the left and the right side of the ruck. It was all about making better judgements in the defence line – an issue highlighted by too many rushed decisions in 2018.

The final part of the morning was a full field game of two hand touch. With only three tackles per team, opportunities were few and far between. The kick and chase became a major component of this fast-paced game.

As usual, extras rounded out the session. A group of forwards did some additional conditioning whilst Joey Grima worked with the dummy halves, and the halves drilled their width passing.

After about two hours the players left the field. There wasn’t the physicality of Friday’s training, but the kilometres were still put in the legs.

I’ll return with my next report on Wednesday.

Eels forever!


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rowdy roddy

Thanks sixties, I’ve been sitting here holding my breath waiting for this next installment. It reminds me of coming home from school in the late 50’s fifties and having to wait for the cartoons to finish before the Lone Ranger would come on with his Indian side kick from Canada Toronto. Yes kimusabi he’s hiding behind that tree?
“Hi Ho Silver” and away”!

Parramatta Tragic

This will put a smile on your face. I was a Shintaro man

rowdy roddy

Shintaro Kamaguchi! The magic backward tree jumper. Love it.


Thanks for the feedback on Shaun Lane, rowdy, he had a great season with Manly and looking forward to seeing what he can bring to our forward pack.

Mark camman

Hi Sixties – i love reading your reports and love your enthusiasm and optimism. Sometimes i think it is easy though to.lose perspective i.e. you might be getting tunnel vision by only wat hing the eels in training. I know it would be a big ask but would it be possible for you to visit the trainiibg sessions at a couple of other clubs to see what they are doing. You might think the parra players are really going hard at training and skills work only to find that the likes of roosters, souths, cronulla etc are streets ahead of… Read more »

Big Derek

Mark, Sixties is doing a great job at the Eels training session. Think you are expecting far too much of him to visit other teams, a little unreasonable in a way. I get down ther occasionally and to see how much attention he pays to what goes on is amazing. To be honest, be satisfied with actually getting a picture of what our club does. Find a site that does as much as this one for any other club and come back with an opinion on that. Sorry to be a bit harsh, but this is not a job but… Read more »


Sixties was there any truth to the rumour about you having to wear a Chocolate soldiers type gurnsey when visiting the Penny Panthers? I heard this may have occurred……with the panther growling.


Ha good one.

Leo toohey

Mark ,there isnt another site that keeps its members informed of pre season like this one , the fact sixties attend all sessions every season gives credibility to his opinions , you go and watch the others training ( if you can get in ) and report back to us , actually kane evans couldnt believe the intensity at parra compared to roosters , i too love sixties enthusiasm and optimisim ,positivity is catching as is negativity so i will stick with the former .


Thanks for the write up. We do enjoy the insights but I’ll have to temper my expectations this time. Following the eels is like getting a cappuccino and finding its all froth and no substance but you go back time and time again hoping for it to change.
Adrian J. sounds like a welcome addition to the squad. Sort of expected French and Sivo to be at the front of running drills – how are they going?
Also I do rate Mick Potter – he’s a asute coach so I do hope BA is listening to both him and Rip!


That surprises me Sixties about Sivo as he is listed at 103kg and I thought Semi was at 99kg. Btw how is he looking and do you think he’ll make the starting team? Additionally what juniors do you consider will be promoted into top 35/36?

Regardless always look forward to your training reports although we both know NOW that sometimes the training doesn’t transfer to match days. In your observations has there been more emphasis on the forwards passing/offloading the ball and support play by them which was sadly missing last season during games imo.


Thanks Sixties, a good report as usual. I like the fact that we have some new young faces, boys who have come through the system, if nothing else it brings a new energy. It is good to see a great mix of young players, some big forwards, quick outside backs and some crafty playmakers. I think in the past we have had the same type of player come through the juniors. One thing I noticed in both your reports and pictures on the club website is that the returning players look a little bigger. Not fat or over weight but… Read more »

rowdy roddy

You are crazy Shelley!
Why would anyone think it strange for a dyed in the wool parrafanatic to be eagerly looking forward to the coming season?
I would have thought being called crazy was a prerequisite for following this wonderful footy club?

rowdy roddy

Great report sixties. Being able to envisage the structure around the different elements of training is encouraging me. I like to see young men have milestones to achieve and focus on for their daily and weekly improvement, just like it will be on game day and the weekly grind at training during the coming season. As you said mate, these blokes know how to train they don’t need games to motivate them. I’m sure from what you’ve described that the whole squad of trainers and players are still having fun. Although you have made a real point of the benefit… Read more »


Great read again Sixties. the competition for spots was something i was hoping this past season but it seems some injuries cut back the competition along with form of some players.
Do you see much of a change in the players body shapes? As in stronger or bigger in certain areas? Or is it too early to say?


Hey sixties, thanks for the report mate. I know you didn’t want to read In to the halves pairings today but I’m still very curious which combination of halves seemed to flow better. Obviously the prospective future of Dylan is exciting to hear about.


Thanks sixties, Ethan Parry sounds like a promising prospect. Do you think he will make the top 30 now that the club has moved on from Hayne? It looks like we are a bit short on outside backs.


I think the intrigue that all these questions are creating is what will keep us most interested in the lead up to next season. I honestly believe the opportunity is ripe for us to completely reshape the backline, especially the outside backs. And with promising stocks on hand, we might just be seeing … i’ll temper those thoughts for now lol!

rowdy roddy

The potential to reshape the backline needs to be tempered with caution if we are to take advantage of what has been built over the last 3 seasons. This is why I believe we need as much stability as we need new blood injected into the side.
Gutho played his best footy for the club at fullback in 2017 until his ACL injury. So he needs to stay there to give some stability to the spine especially when we look to be playing around with the halves and the likelyhood of only one of them retaining his spot.

Leo toohey

Just on another subject , midfield bombs by mitch moses , hope he does as hes told this season and sticks to the coachs kicking instructions , his kick choices were pathetic last season as was his onfield attitude , play for team mitch ,not yourself .

Eel Nut

Thanks Sixties,
Mate it’s one thing to read your reports on the training but to actually read your thoughts on where we stand compared to years gone by is refreshing and seemingly optimistic. It’s hard to get over such an unfortunate year as 2018 but to hear that there are more positives than negatives is great.
Keep up the great work mate.


Thanks sixties unfortunately i still haven’t cought the enthusiasm but still enjoy the read, a bit concerning to hear Joey Grimia is still hanging around its the lack of good coaches underneath a struggling head coach that worries me.

How involved is Mick Potter?


What’s wrong with Joey Grima?


Lovely guy but lacking in the coaching department in my opinio just not a impressive pedigree that gets a new player excited to work with him. There is a distinct lack of 1st grade experience in our coaching ranks players respond to ex players knowing that they know what there talking about and thats whats wrong with having Grima fill a role of skills coach for so long its a job for a ex player not a glorified junior coach. Look at our coaching staff from last year with the exception of Kidwell not alot of 1st grade experience i… Read more »

Leo toohey

which and how many days have you attended training to make this statement re grima .


Yes and no point allowing the truth get in the way of a story. I actually find it ok both having the ex players involved. Kidwell and Potter who both have extensive experience


Serious??!! I’ve had the pleasure of being next to Joey during a game. His ability to see what is going to happen a couple of plays before it does, then explain why it happened quickly and simply to a layman like me is just amazing.
His personality and enthusiasm are just an added bonus


Nothing against joey as a bloke i know cause i know a few past and present players and juniors through my work and socially and they have said similar things
Great junior coach but doesn’t make 1st graders better and looking at the development of the last few years you can say that about our squad.


A player should respond to anyone in the coaching staff regardless of 1st grade experience, says more about the player and their attitude than the coach. If they don’t like it they shouldn’t be at the club.


I’d agree but what I’ve learned is these guys may be professional but they are young kids the last 2 years ive got to know the going ons of alot a few clubs and the attitudes at our club has been a worry especially to the players outside the squad. Back to my point Joeys new role suites him he is a good junior coach the inclusion of potter is great and will be beneficial not only in his expertise but he is ready made to fill the role should BA not see out the year and thats what i… Read more »


Agreed it was never ment to be about him as a bloke.

Tim Leathem

Sixties, can you please clarify if there have been any changes to the coaching and or strength & conditioning coaches from 2018 to 2019, i.e gains & loses?
Thanks mate.


Is Lachlan Willmott still around?

Tim Leathem

Cheers mate, appreciate you getting back to me. Keep up the good work.

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