The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training – January 25, 2019: Eels Return To Richie Benaud Oval

This season the Parramatta Eels will be returning to their spiritual home – Cumberland Oval/BankWest Stadium.

Today, it was another return to the past as the Eels gathered on the hallowed fields of Richie Benaud Oval. The event had been kept very quiet, but it was definitely one of the “highlights” of the pre-season.

More on that later.

Earlier in the morning, the field session unfolded at Old Saleyards with more opposed work under the control of NRL referees. This was one of the more contrived sessions with first the Red team, then the Blue, given extended periods of possession.

As noted in previous training posts, this provides the defenders with varied scenarios, depending on where the restart was dictated. This could be from a drop out, a scrum, a tap or a turnover. There was very little set for set exchanges.

Once again it was not a perfect session. That said, the commitment and execution in defence was impressive, and the standard of the footy improved during the course of the morning.

Unfortunately, with some phone issues impacting my morning, I was not able to jot down my usual reminder notes. My apologies for this post not being as detailed as usual.

Opposed and Defence Drill Highlights

* A powerful Shaun Lane charge at the line was rewarded with a try close to the posts

* Strong lead up work by Schneider and French created a try in the corner for Haze Dunster


* Maika Sivo was able to showcase some of his pace after being put into space by Rhys Davies (Wenty)

* A classic wingers try was scored by Blake Ferguson. The way he used his pace to get on the outside of his opposite from about 30 metres out following a backline shift was a thing of beauty

* Tepai Moeroa continues to demonstrate that he is stepping up to a leadership role with plenty of talk directed at his team mates, urging them on

* Tight defensive lines and good communication was a feature of the defence drills

Marata Niukore

* Marata Niukore and Salesi Fainga’a ensured the defence worked hard with impressive post contact metres during the drills

* The team finished the session with a solid set of “Malcolms”

* Mannah and French both addressed the squad at the conclusion of the session with strong words about staying focussed and setting goals for the following week – the players know that they need to take ownership of their play and it’s good to see a range of players stepping up.


The Cricket Cup – Gold Caps (Australia) vs The World

In a superb afternoon of fun, coupled with a healthy dose of team bonding, the Parramatta players organised their own prelude to long weekend celebrations with a cricket clash at Richie Benaud Oval.

The Gold Caps fielding

With the Rest of the World team in their specially made cricket whites, and the Australian team in their gold caps, the banter flew thick and fast as the players demonstrated why they chose a career in rugby league.

It was not exactly the classical cricket encounter between two first 11s. There were few spaces to be found with about twenty fielders per team. The staffing “ring-ins” bolstered each team, but the standard of fielding compensated for lack of open spaces.

More of the “action”

Wickets and boundaries attracted raucous celebrations, and a few select players earned the honour of retiring not out. Unless my score keeping was sadly astray, that magical retirement seemed to arrive after scoring a grand total of 12 runs or more.

A junior cricketer of some renown, Nathan Brown retired with two scoring shots off about four deliveries. Others who looked “comfortable” wielding the willow included Fergo, Gutho, Salesi, Moses, Baz and Stoney.

A big over from Dave Kidwell for the World team nearly turned the match on its head with what seemed like 20 dismissals. The finger of umpire Adrian Jimenez looked to be permanently raised in a sequence of decisions going the Rest of the World’s way.

Ultimately, the World couldn’t quite defend its total and the Gold caps were victorious.

This was an enjoyable gathering for the players, organised by the players themselves, before they get a few days break. Earlier in the post I used the term “highlight” to describe the afternoon.  Whilst there were no C grade cricketers around Sydney under threat of losing their spots from this afternoon’s highlight, you could watch the fun and bonding in action for a squad who’d been all business at every session.

Have a wonderful Australia Day everyone.

Eels forever!


(Photos courtesy of Parra Eels and Parrathruandthru)

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colin hussey

Have we another new arrival sixties, or someone from behind the stumps “Daniel Lane”

One can imagine the three day break will go down well, but they have to come back on Tuesday, maybe then the real sessions start with only 3 weeks of playmaking until the first trials.

Ps, good report but lacked the excitement, although some nice pointers to a couple of the players. Tepai looks bigger and fitter this far. Marata I do not think is going to give up his top forwards spot without a fight.

rowdy roddy
rowdy roddy

Great report Sixties. I thoroughly enjoyed being invited into the spectators pavilion at Richie Benaud to watch the “international cricket match” doubling as a bonding session and the “boys own” Australia Day celebration.
I’d also like to acknowledge Starr Partners for their continued support of your preseason training reports.


One of our glaring problems last year was goal kicking. Are the 3 acknowledged (although no way near great) kickers, Moses, Gutho and Dylan Brown practising after training? From your observation who’ll have the job.


Great report again Sixties and hope everyone is enjoying the wonderful day over there for Australia Day. Regards to all and thanks for the report- seems the boys have ended another tough week with a good wind down of cricket to coincide with the wonderful Aussie Day celebrations.
Thanks again and interesting to read Tep stepping up and Bevan addressing the team. Gee how good would it be to have Bevan and Jenko having seasons like 2016/17…..


The Ferguson comment…flashback- could substitute Eric Grothe in that sentence. In his first U23’s year he murdered opposing wingers by running around them, and when no space, through them. We started sitting down the northern end, behind the posts just to watch it…a thing of beauty! Sixties, it’s in the eye of the beholder, Ray Higgs never wandered from the dusty middle strip at Cumberland, that was a real thing of beauty.

colin hussey

Eric Snr, had one of the more uncommon running styles where he was crouched as he ran to the opposition which made him hard to tackle, once through the defence he straightened up a bit and was very hard to catch and put down. IIRC, when shovels played with the eels and the tackle he made on Artie was one the best and hardest tacklers around, I was sitting in the grandstand at Cumberland on that day and he got big Artie under the rib cage head on and drove him back into the in goal. I never saw any… Read more »


Do you think Moeroa could be in the mix for being one of our middle forwards, possibly from the bench? I think that’s where his future lies. If he could develop some footwork and short passing at the line, combined with his decent pace, I reckon he’d be a good middle forward. We don’t need him on the edge.

Leo toohey
Leo toohey

Fridays junior report ??


Interesting to see Rhys Davies having a run. Do you know what position he was playing, (I know he is mostly a half or hooker), Has he been training much with the NRL squad? Are there any other Wenty players having a run with the NRL team?