The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training – January 9, 2019: Cash Is King

There’s the rare occasion when I should simply record a one word expletive and present that as my training report. Today was a case in point.

I rocked up to Old Saleyards this morning confident that I’d be watching a fair chunk of opposed work. Instead, I witnessed one of the most physically demanding sessions from the past five years.

But please don’t interpret my preference for using profanity as disappointment. Instead, lets stroll down the path of my stupefaction at the physicality of what was on display. I really wasn’t expecting it.

The focus today was conditioning and defence.

The rationale – the unwavering determination that the team want to hit the ground running in Round 1.

To set the scene, today’s warm temperatures, combined with the high humidity, produced arguably the most uncomfortable conditions yet for this pre-season. The ground was still carrying some moisture from the last few days of rain, and this was a strong factor in creating the steamy conditions.

The work was again conducted across the two fields – Field 1 for the conditioning work and Field 2 for the coaching.

Conditioning – Reed “Cash” Mahoney You Freak

The warm-up, stretching, running technique and core strength work with Lachie Wimot kicked off the session. There was probably around 10 – 15 minutes of this before the squad shifted into the hands of Adrian Jimenez.

Adrian has tests that he puts the players through and then levels them. The interval running that they complete demands effort on effort. A close eye is kept on players to check for short cuts (ie – not grounding a foot behind a line) and body language. Players are also expected to self assess themselves and the group.

The conditioning continued between the two periods of defensive drills, as well as at the conclusion of the session.

Today’s currency – Cash Mahoney!

And the harder it got, the better Reed Mahoney performed. In fact, by the time the team was put through its final paces, “Cash” had moved past the King to clear away in the last and most exhausting run of the morning.

Now, the following names might just be a surprise. Obviously Gutho finished second but not far behind were Michael Jennings and Manu Ma’u. And when the big fellas started struggling – the likes of Will Smith and Reed Mahoney moved back onto the field to run alongside them in a sign of support.

We spoke very briefly to Adrian Jimenez after the session and he was extremely pleased with how far the squad has come.

The Defence

The early skills work today was all about the kick chase and the ensuing tackles. The message from BA was clear. The team need to commit to this from the start of any game. No warming into it. No excuses.

Ideally any team wants to kick deep, chase in a good line, and make the opposition work hard to get out of their twenty metre area. Kickers have to get their kicks to land near the corners, without rolling dead.

For the team fielding the kick, the positioning of the winger and centre were scrutinised. Were they offering the level of support needed by the fullback?

Jennings brought the big effort.

As this was being drilled, I found myself being concerned with some dropped ball. Even if this wasn’t the intent of the drill, you don’t want loose carries or poor execution with possession.

I then considered the glass half-full perspective. Solid hits from the chasing team were forcing the errors. And weren’t there some hits to remember! Junior Paulo and Reed Mahoney absolutely smashed Ethan Parry in a big collision and Greg Leleisiuao came off second best when he crash-tackled Tepai.

The sound of the collisions were exclamation marks signalling the intensity.

Later, the squad was broken up into three groups to drill defence decisions and techniques close to the ruck. It reinforced the contact work done in the pit, with a bit more game simulation.

This final defensive drill was conducted under extreme fatigue – right at the end of the session. This was undoubtedly very deliberate. The majority of a rugby league match is played with some level of fatigue, and a team’s ability to defend or make effort on effort is probably just as crucial in the 80th minute as it is in the first.

Additional Observations

I thought that the talk today was a bit down on previous sessions. There were constant reminders that they needed to talk more to the person next them, but I wasn’t convinced that it reached a level that the staff would have been happy with.

One player that couldn’t be accused of being quiet was Clint Gutherson. The Eels co-captain barked at his team mates, talking up and demanding effort areas. His co-captain, Tim Mannah, was also spotted moving to different players for individual words of encouragement.

The consensus of opinion from players and staff afterwards?

Refer to that aforementioned expletive.

Bring on Friday.

(Shout out to the brave crow that took a strong interest in the Eels drone. Not the first time a bird has wanted to take it on.)

Eels forever!

Sixties

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parrathruandthru
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parrathruandthru

Today was the most arduous session I have ever witnessed. Easily. I’m sure someone will need to write the boring “toughest preseason ever” byline but a couple of players commented that it was the hardest session they have ever done. 60’s neglected to say it went for 2hrs when most only go for 90 min – only! Reedy was outstanding and he was one who’s talk was noticeable, especially when he has finished the drill first and could be heard reminding his team mates loudly about positive body language and encouraging some stragglers. Hopefully today raises the bar. Looking forward… Read more »

paul taylor
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paul taylor

Great read once again. Alex Jimenez is making a real difference . We saw him in the back end of 2018 when they had nothing to play for but appears he is really driving them hard. The dropped ball is a massive issue for this team. They were guilty of it so much in 2018 not building pressure and releasing pressure when it was needed to be applied. Hope they fix it. Just wondering if there any new guys arriving ? Some trial for contract players, some players from other clubs looking at making a go at a contract at… Read more »

Gazzamatta
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Gazzamatta

Great stuff 60s. As always your training summations are required reading for Eels Tragics such as I.
A question if I may?
Ive not read a great deal regarding B. French’s efforts. Given his athleticism, and physical stature, one would assume he would excell in the conditioning work. How are his efforts thus far? Does he look larger/stronger? Has he maintained his speed? Are his ball playing and kicking skills being developed?
Thanks in anticipation.
Cheers
Gaz

Offside
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Offside

Thanks 60s as always i so feel the team is moving in the right direction not necessarily this year but soon. I believe alot of that has to do with young Reed Mahoney i was impressed with him last year and over during his junior career. On another note the article on the Eels website about Reed and the other young boys working with Autistic children is a geeat reflection on the culture change happening. I was speaking to a friend of mine who works at that particuliar school he was saying Reed,Stone and Kafusai have all worked there prior… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Has Solomoni Naiduki joined the squad yet mate?

Milo
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Milo

Very good article to read Sixties and Parrathruanthru. It seems as others have mentioned that Jiminez is raising the bar plus some which is needed. It also allows the new younger players to see the new culture coming into the club and we only hope the players overall improve those 1/2% ers from 2018; as those effort areas and discipline is one that needs to change ahead of the season. As I’ve mentioned many times previously the forwards have to aim up each match – its as simple as that; and i know the halves need to lead the team… Read more »

rowdy roddy
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rowdy roddy

Great report big fella.
The continued focus on fitness and defense is very encouraging as is the stated support for same by the players. Sometimes the worst possible outcome (wooden spoon) is a greater motivator than an equal fail at 12th -15th because of the stigma attached to it. You can’t play first grade (NRL) without a bucket load of pride and confidence.
At the end of the day, at the end of the day, it is what one thinks of himself that matters.

Jonboy
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Jonboy

My thirst for these training reports never wanes. My hunger for success for our team is insatiable. My fears of exaggerated enthusiasm are haunting me as I find it difficult not to let my emotions run away from me.

Last years training reports filled us with so much confidence in conjunction with the 2017 finish. I am praying that the hard lessons, pain and embarrassment of 2018 generate sufficient endurance and motivation for a more successful year. Heaven knows it can’t get much worse!

Keep fighting the good fight Sixties!

colin hussey
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Jonboy, I share your thoughts in this regard especially with the hard training, and the memories of similar posts last year, with the resulting expectations that failed. In saying that I am fairly optimistic for the coming season, although its a bit cautious optimism. At the same time the way the players are training there is a difference with them compared to how they went last year with the ex AFL trainer, that certainly looked that it did not work. The arrival of Jiminez mid year showed a difference on the field except in the area of points though. Way… Read more »

rowdy roddy
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rowdy roddy

There’s more than a bit of truth in your opinions regarding “new culture” training this preseason and last, Colin.
I’m a dyed in the wool BA fan but, those decisions to attack preseason preparation the way we did last year was clearly a punt on a roughy to say the least. The decision to go in a different direction this year started to become obvious when Adrian Jiminez arrived mid season. Good work BA!

Rob
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Rob

This may sound like hyperbole but I think and feel an excitement to read these training reports that falls just short of watching an actual game and reading a match report.

You’re that good, Sixties, thank you.

Anthony
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Anthony

I was interested and pleased to read about the emphasis on the kick chase, and getting that ball in the corner. Hopefully it’s a sign that the kicking game this year will be much improved and return to what built our success in 2017. We lost a lot of field position last season through poor kick options.

Shelley
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Shelley

Really good to hear the name Michael Jennings being spoken about in a positive way. Watching him play and being so out of confidence especially towards the end was upsetting. I can’t help but think better fitness levels may go a long way towards helping him have a better 2019. With young players around him he will be very important, especially in defense.

BDon
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BDon

Our red zone defence(against block plays, numbering up etc), kicking game, and rucking the ball out decent metres were all open to huge improvement. Sixties, looks like all being addressed?
Tim Mannah copped a bit, but unless I was watching in a daze, I reckon he was the only forward to consistently make headway off our own line. Paulo, plus more kgs on others,and bigger back 3, will assist greatly.

rowdy roddy
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rowdy roddy

I would support that observation 100% BDon.

Glenn
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Glenn

Great report as always 60s. Any indication who will be our starting halves come round 1? My guess would be Salmon and Moses with Gutho as centre and French fb. The two biggest worries for me is our fullback and centre positions where we appear very skinny if injuries or poor form hits. Any chance Parry, who has a background at fb and centre, could be in top 29 come round 1?

Greg Okladnikov
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Greg Okladnikov

great report as always

Dazboy70
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Dazboy70

Hey Sixties, how’s Brown travelling after his surgery