The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training – December 5, 2018: Mix And Match

Once again, this Wednesday’s report will be a mixture of the Tuesday and Wednesday sessions.

Tuesday is a light workload day and wouldn’t really justify a dedicated post, but some feedback from it does provide a greater picture of some of the preparations that make up the pre-season.

Keeping up the theme of mixture, the Wednesday opposed session brought with it the swapping and changing of halves, fullbacks and props. There was an unexpected constant that didn’t change today, which makes for some interesting speculation.

With the return of Blake Ferguson from his mandated NRL leave, the 2019 squad is now all on deck for training. There are a few players in rehab, something that is typical in any season, but with the majority available for full contact the stage becomes set for combinations to be worked upon.

Here’s how the last two days have evolved:

Tuesday

The early morning was spent with groups of players working on position specific skills. Prior to my arrival, the halves had been honing their long passes. When I arrived, another group were working on their passing and tip ons with Potter and Kidwell.

Like most skill drills, this was scaffolded from the skill itself to running it at an opposition. Quick hands were the name of the game.

The interesting aspect to observe was the banter between Ferguson and the other players. They’ve obviously made him feel at home and he’s easily adjusted.

Following the skills work, the entire squad moved onto the field to consolidate their knowledge of the basic shapes coming from deep in their own territory.

This has to be second nature. With a couple of young halves and a large number of new players added to the full-time squad, it’s no surprise that extra time is required on this aspect.

Wednesday

It doesn’t matter how often I watch this bloke train, I continue to be amazed by Clint Gutherson. Even though the young players have thrown everything they have and more into keeping up with him, the reality is that the King is in a class of his own.

The players were put through their shuttle runs with all of the up and downs off the ground. This was followed with a timed run of around 1.5km.

In the backs group, Gutho simply blasted away from the pack and maintained that distance. The closest to him was Haze Dunster (probably about 40m behind), then Reed Mahoney who came with a withering finish to reel in about 4 or 5 players ahead of him in the last 200 metres.

Marata Niukore is building nicely into 2019.

In the forwards, it was Mannah leading the pack, with Marata Niukore placing just behind. The Kiwi back rower is really warming into this pre-season (more on this later.)

With the players fatigued from the conditioning, it was the ideal time to move into some full contact opposed footy.

The main features of the opposed session were:

* At first, it seemed like the players in main contention were playing in the Red team.

* The halves were swapped between the two teams. Moses and Norman had first crack, with Brown and Smith opposing them.

* Brown and Norman traded positions, with Moses staying in Red to play the dominant role. Therefore, Moses had an uninterrupted session at half. Can anything be read into this? Probably not.

* Gutherson swapped from Red to Blue, trading places with French.

* Salmon played in the centres today, swapping from Blue team to Red team. His game was marked by a couple of very strong charges, one through the middle and the other out wide.

* Marata Niukore set up a superb try for Gutherson. Running out wide near the halfway mark, he charged into space, put on a great step to beat a defender and then offloaded in the tackle for Gutho to score.

Danny didn’t get the ball away this time.

* One of the breaks saw Danny Alvaro break into the open off second phase footy before he himself offloaded in a tackle. Only great scramble ended the raid.

* David Gower reminded us that he is a five-eighth trapped in a forward’s body.

* Quality second phase footy was matched by smart defensive decisions.

* Other inclusions today were the games of beach footy and raid footy, and of course the usual extras. The games were highly competitive, and the emphasis was on finding and creating space. These are fun games and there was a fair share of banter and celebrations.

Final Comment

The Wednesday session would have pleased the coaches. Apart from one wasted opportunity following a penalty, the players executed many of the plays that the coaches had been working on.

There were good questions asked of the defence, especially on the back of the work through the middle. Breaks made were shut down by scrambling defence.

Bring on Friday!

Eels forever!

Sixties

 

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Guest
Empty

Great write up again. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Gutho hasn’t hit 100 games yet he is that much of a leader.
Quick question though. With reports that the refs are going to relax again and the crackdown from 2018 seems dead, can having a bigger forward pack in 2019 be a positive or a hindrance? No secret that with a smaller pack, we struggled during the blitz as bigger packs were getting a rest.

colin hussey
Guest

Once again sixties a great read. The swapping around of players in the combo’s makes it very interesting and likely for the halves to show how well they play themselves but also in different combinations, being ready I guess for any changes over the season. Junior at 130Kg and if his momentum is kept up is certainly going to be a bonus for the season ahead, and each player will be looking to cement their futures at the eels. It will be a huge year for Gutho as he will certainly be a key to where we end up, his… Read more »

John Eel
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John Eel

Colin I like you have some interest in Bevan. Would be nice if he could get back to his 16/17 form. A bit of speculation about tonight regarding Norman and the Dragons.

rowdy roddy
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rowdy roddy

We should try to swap him for that young centre Lomax.

John Eel
Guest
John Eel

That works

colin hussey
Guest

French or Norms? Besides if one them goes to the dragons, do we not have others in our system that could fill the spot?

colin hussey
Guest

John, he has too much talent to not perform again, if he doesn’t and given the club has tried to help him adjust to being in Sydney, then he may also fail at another club, which to me would be sad.

If Norms goes to the dragons, then it opens up the 1 spot at the eels for someone to own it.

rowdy roddy
Guest
rowdy roddy

Great read Sixties. I was encouraged to see that at least our coach has a good memory, Gutho training at fullback is a no brainer for mine, it was where he shone in 2017 prior to his ACL injury. He was inspirational coming into the backline and supporting the big ball carriers through the middle third. It certainly showed he is a genuine fullback. Unfortunately coming back from injury impeded his off season and the fact that BA was obliged to give Bevan a gallop at the back and the extra pressure of trying to fit Hayne in and around… Read more »

Poppa
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Poppa

I think a lot have forgotten that French and Gutherson both had serious knee injuries, Guth was always going to be slower as the ACL is looked at differently. Just the same French did a posterior ligament the same season and came back when it was totally removed in that year. I have no doubt that it effected his balance and swerve and also a couple of metres of pace last year, even after the benefit of the off season. The question this year has that posterior injury has now been bedded down and the surrounding muscles compensating. Bevan French’s… Read more »

Leo toohey
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Leo toohey

Seriously poppa his team mates and coaches arent telling him to get rag dolled and he is weak under the high ball and his mistake rate is terrible it is that simple mate , its shape up or shipout time !!!!!!!

rowdy roddy
Guest
rowdy roddy

Ditto Leo.

John Eel
Guest
John Eel

He is no smaller than Dufty or Slater. Being rag dolled is a result of taking poor options. He still has a high level of athleticism and his instincts are good. He had good positional play as a junior and there is no reason to suspect that he can’t regain this with confidence

Osh
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Osh

Hey mate , how is Nathan brown travelling May I ask ?

Jake Ratz
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Jake Ratz

Been out injured mate for a few weeks now. Injured knee doing defensive work in the sand pit.!

Milo
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Milo

Sixties, when do they break for Christmas / festivas?
I guess combinations will begin to be sorted soonish. i know the first trial is some time away, but i guess in a months time it will be countdown to the trials.
Interesting to see Smith being used as a half too.

Maj John Resiman
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Maj John Resiman

Thanks for the report 60’s

Who would you say would be our starting back-rowers/lock ?

Like the idea of Marata replacing Tepai , can you still see Manu as a starter? Presume brown is a must.

Jonboy
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Jonboy

I reckon the forwards are going to present BA with tougher decisions to make on a week to week basis than who our starting 6 & 7 will be! Junior is possibly the only bloke that has a starting position. Polar, Timmy and Evans are all going to be fighting for the front row job. Lane didn’t get brought over to play ISP so surely he has 1st option on one edge. Manu, Tepai, Marata, Teripo, Gower are all contenders. Let’s not forget Taka, where will Taka end up back row or centres? Browny surely has lock locked up but… Read more »

rowdy roddy
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rowdy roddy

I reckon you’re on the mark Jonboy, especially with regard to our forward potential this year, although from what I’ve seen and read of Ray Stone this preseason it might be fair to say he also is a smokey for a bench spot as he covers hooker, edge and 13. In the backs we have plenty of competition and therefore numerous options for every position especially if Taka is considered as a centre again. I liked what I saw of Smith’s attack at centre and he is generally pretty safe defensively. I don’t believe BA will want to weaken fullback… Read more »

Maj John Resiman
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Maj John Resiman

Could Ray Stone be our Hooker ? Honestly we have too many short back rowers as it is in Mau and Browny and don’t think having him partnered with these 2 would work. Lane will play thats for sure and hes tall but he wont be starter come round 1, no way BA would throw him in to start straight away. Yeah It’s looking good for our forwards as far as competing for spots. Personally think Tepai’s got to go, could prove me wrong though. This is what i see Junior Paulo Ray Stone? Daniel Alvaro Manu Mau / Tepai… Read more »

Leo toohey
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Leo toohey

What no mahoney ; wow ????

Jimmy Jnr
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Jimmy Jnr

Why is he a must.?

John Eel
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John Eel

If Peni Terepo is fit he will be in the 17

Rob
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Rob

He is a very dynamic prop, perhaps not heavy enough though to impact the line if he takes it on rather than going around them with amazing speed for a bigger man.

John Eel
Guest
John Eel

I think that it has been reported that Taka has been training with the Fowards

Jonboy
Guest
Jonboy

This is going to be a make or break season for a number of players especially considering the number off contract at the end of the season.

Tepai has to stand up…his head knocks last season hurt us often. Technique must be a contributing factor. Remember 2017 how often Timmy was HIA bound, somehow that changed 2018 so hopefully Tep can get it done.

I’m a huge fan of Manu but again the variation between best and average performance is large and somewhat frequent.

The young guns are really going to make the older boys hurt this season I think.

Leo toohey
Guest
Leo toohey

Taka, position should be wenty , bigger mistake rate than kenny edwards .

Mark camman
Guest
Mark camman

Hi Sixties – thanks for another grea t report.
I’m interested to know of you have seen much of Maeko Sivo at training. Do you think he will be one of our starting wingers in 2019?

Rob
Guest
Rob

Wouldn’t he have to displace G Jennings and or Blake Ferguson to be there?

I’d think French would get a look in too.

I’m not saying that his highlight reel YouTube videos aren’t amazing and awe-inspiring, not to mention Semi-esque, but he’s not played 1st grade and he’s 25. Something must be missing?

rowdy roddy
Guest
rowdy roddy

Something missing, It could be feelers from French Rugby? That always gets the Fijians and the Money Bill whathisnames all excited about staying loyal to those who identified their potential and spent stacks on developing them or doesn’t?

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

He’s in the rehab group. Hopefully we’ll see him in the reports soon.
Fuuuuuui (Not Anon)

Jake Ratz
Guest
Jake Ratz

Another great read. Thank you.
Where was your advantage point regarding the timed run. From where i watched i seen different results.
1st. King Gutho by some distance
2nd. Dunster a little back
3rd Schneider
4th Brown / Mahoney
5th Mahoney / Brown very tight between the two

Brown struggling with a minor back problem at present.
Iv been very impressed by Utoikamanu. I think he is a certain to be promoted to top 30