The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training – February 4 & 5, 2019: Trial Week Edition

The wait is finally over for many of the squad. The first of the pre-season trials will take place this Thursday at Ringrose Park, and the players involved are champing at the bit. It’s also a significant event for our opponents, South Sydney, who’ve recently severed ties with Norths and will now field Rabbitohs teams in the lower grades.

For those supporters unaware of the details, the Flegg will be kicking off their trial at 5pm, with ISP starting at 7pm. This will be a tremendous opportunity to watch some young Eels talent up close.

Of course, the inclusion of a match in the week’s schedule completely changes the training program for the week. As a consequence, I’m putting the last two days together into the single report.


Only half of the squad were involved in the field session. Every player involved in Thursday’s trial was given a lighter load, with some morning gym work placed on their agenda.

After warming up, the squad worked on their left, and then their right side attack, with play restricted to the respective corridors. The combinations are definitely starting to warm to the task.

The team then worked full field through their attacking shapes, as they took sets of six unopposed. This was basically like observing a Captain’s run.

A welcome sight – Nathan Brown in action.

An important inclusion today was Nathan Brown. After returning from rehab, this was his first run in a field session since before Christmas. He was still wearing orange (no contact) but today was a big step in his return.

Contact was eventually included as the squad completed a tight defensive drill. Players were singled out for praise for their impact and communication.

Naturally, it wouldn’t be a pre-season session without Adrian Jimenez taking the squad through a sequence of runs. The players finished with sets of sprints – it appeared to be 50m, 70m and 100m

Will Smith impressed.

The four players to catch the eye were Gutho, Will Smith, Dylan Brown and Reed Mahoney. I had my money on Will Smith over the 100 metres and he was right up there, finishing second to Brown in one sprint and second to Gutho in the final sprint. Typically, the King finished the session with a win!

We caught up with Dunster, Fainga’a, Kaufusi and Utoikamanu as they left Saleyards late in the morning. Thursday can’t come soon enough for them.


The full squad worked together in a decent opposed session. There was a collection of media there grabbing footage as the team completed skills work with Murf, but they were moved along as the opposed became serious.

Brad Arthur provided guidance for the ISP players who were in Gold for the hit out. With Thursday’s trial two days away, and the chance to keep pushing claims for an NRL berth on the line, the players looked to have their game faces on.

In a willing contest, the NRL team (Blue) had too much firepower for the Golds. The highlights were:

Taka is staking his claim

* Tepai’s powerful charge to the line after a great ball from Polar (Chugga)

* A determined effort by Gutherson to carry two defenders over the line then force the ball

* Taka providing a glimpse of his best centre form as he first charged into the defence then offloaded in traffic to his support.

* Salmon, at five-eighth for the Gold, swooping on a loose ball about 20 metres out from his line and only just being brought down short of a try

* A clever kick on the run from Schneider for French (Gold) that was only just denied a try

Junior is in great condition

* Marata, the big human, proving unstoppable from short range in his try

* Junior Paulo looking fitter than ever

* Will Smith interchanging with Dylan Brown at five-eighth

* Great scramble and defensive energy off the line from the Blues to deny the Golds multiple scoring opportunities.

The session concluded with the typical extras. Players regularly drive this additional work. Sometimes they might grab a coach to work on a particular skill. On other occasions, the players will work with another player on kicking, passing, play the balls etc.

Final Word

We were fortunate to grab about five – ten minutes with Adrian today. Amongst other things, we learnt that the “Malcolms” were named after former English International and Newcastle Knights coach, Mal Reilly.

Anyone who saw Reilly in action knew he was a tough bastard, so this revelation had me nodding my head. With a reputation for being a hard head who was incredibly fit, Reilly demanded that same toughness and fitness from his players. The Malcolm is a legacy felt by players at a few NRL clubs.


Eels forever!


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!0 Year Member

Good to hear Brownie is back, hopefully he recaptures his 2017 form. He is an important kog in our overall team.
Very happy to hear Brad has nominated the other Brown a spot on team, must be doing wonder for the kids confidence. Great listening to him on the parra podcast, he is a breath of fresh air. Obviously NRL is going to be tough and we need to give him time.


Hey mate which podcast are you referring to when you mentioned Dylan Brown?

Big Derek

Spoke to a lower grade coach of another NRL team, who openly said that Dylan Brown at 18 is better than Nathan Cleary was at the same age. Big call and time will tell, but having watched him through the grades it doesn’t seem unbelievable.

!0 Year Member

Yes, Sixties, we need to give him time, there is no SAVIOUR. Big D, nice to hear about the insight into his ability, but even Cleary has been made to look good by those around him. We need to have a complete team. The temprement of Brown, at such a young age, impresses me no end.

PS: The typo of the exclamation mark in the 1 has stuck!


Great report as always mate but i have to say do you think Will Smith would have gone one better had your money not been on him 🙂

Trevor Campbell

Thanks Sixties I can’t wait for the season to start. We all know trials can be hit and miss as far as the upcoming season goes, but, even if the team doesn’t perform during these trials, we can always find something positive to focus on whether it be onfield performance or the TCT reports. I have always tended to favour pride, from an individual and team perspective, as being the most important trait for future success, so if the players can show that every time they take the field then success will eventually come. The number of new players coming… Read more »


Any news regarding possible team selections for ISP Thursday night.
Who was on the gold team today.?


French,Greg L,Hoffman,parry,Dunster,salmon,rhys Davies ,Kane,sheneider,Terepo,faiga,Davey,oregan


Appreciate the reply.
Will be interesting with some of the names above. Looking forward to the report.!


Like everyone I am looking forward to the season starting. I don’t know how they will go but I am confident they will surprise many. One of the most pleasing aspects from the off season has been watching and listening to Junior Paulo. Like many I hated that he had to leave but he seems to have matured, at least he comes across that way in the interviews. He looks very fit and I think he has the potential to be great, both on the field but also mentoring some of the younger forwards. I hope we as a fan… Read more »

colin hussey

Well the off season is getting shorter and shorter, with the first of the trials about to hit, we don’t have to wait long for the main game. Seemed a briefish report sixties but as per usual a good one, hopefully it seems the way Will is training last years form may well be a forgotten one and he kicks on, certainly the competition he has this year should spur him on. Good to see both Nathan Brown back on the field even with the oge shirt, I hope he’s on to of the recoup period in time for the… Read more »

colin hussey

sixties, no problem with that at all, & you have said it a fair bit in the past.

Point I was basically making was that it was an easy read through, overall rather the detail in the post.


Great recount Sixties and thank you again to you and the merry band of followers who are attending sessions and providing details.
I gather the club won’t name squads beforehand who are playing?
Anyway does not matter.
Its good to see Brown back (Nathan) and he for me is integral for our pack along with Junior and Polar as he leads the mongrel in a few ways and needs a big year for me.


Milo, the last time we had a bit of grunt on show was when Junior, Peats and Mau were building a foundation. Brown and Niukore have that calm, cold look about them. I’ll never forget that Junior got 8 weeks for playing too rough with Matt Ballin, what a joke that was.


Could not agree more BDon. Controlled aggression is whats needed; and we do need it! Junior got shafted for that one.

colin hussey

Milo, I believe that with the addition of Jnr, and return of Brown, and Ma’u from injury does give us more mongrel we missed later in last years season.
Marata also showed he can mix with top opposition sides as well.

Alvaro and Tim are much better players also then many give them credit for. I doubt many sides will be taking the eels as gimme games.


Yes Coo, Mannah and Polar are good; and we need to see the pack hunt as a pack and be v consistent. I maintain we can make 8 provided we have minimal key injuries, play with discipline and the team plays to their ability; seems simple but it can happen.

colin hussey

Nothing to argue on in what you say there Milo. Disciple is really the big key to how our season goes, when that is in place abilities will show out easier.

The key though will be who leads the team around, not saying that is the captain but someone who is a leader.

John Eel

Colin picking up on your earlier point about Marata, I see him as a starting player as opposed to him playing off the bench. I think that he has the football skills and the energy to do this role.

This will be his second year and I am hoping to see a further improvement this year. This would leave players such as Peni and Tepai as bench players. Both can have impact

colin hussey

John, I believe Marata will be in the starting 17, thing is whether as run on or bench. Much may depend on the opposition, my mind goes back to round one last year against Penrith, when we were outsmarted right from the beginning when Penrith started with either all or several of their bench players. We went ok in the first 20 but once their main players came on and scored against us, it was shut the gate. For me, I believe the players announced in the 1-13 should run on unless they are out of the game entirely, its… Read more »

colin hussey

That’s the very sad truth sixties. Tim doesn’t always get put on the deck and has great leg strength and tries to play the ball as fast as possible. Polar is not far behind him either, the extra bulk/muscle is going to help him in impact and hopefully can learn from Tim with the leg strength and in the play the ball. If the two are on the paddock at the same time and display the same strengths the opposition will tire early.


I’m hoping this season treats us kindly regarding injuries. I think the injurues we suffered last year had a lot to do with where we ended on the ladder.


Hi 60s. Once again thanks for your coverage. A question if I may. Ive read reports that state The Eels as having the slowest play the ball of all teams throughout 2018. In my opinion we have always been poor in this area and it was a major contributor to our average attack and low penalty counts last season. The more a player struggles for a quick play the ball the greater pressure is applied to the referee. I understand larger/stronger/fitter players should help us in this area but have you witnessed any specific training to address this critical issue?… Read more »

Seth hardie

Been watching a lot of Shaun lane on foxtel replays, looks great five metres out from opponents tryline a bit of a ghost in the other ninety five metres. I hope our coaching boys noticed that

Seth hardie

It looks obvious to me that with the buying of Evans and lane that b.a is after a Nelson asofa Solomona style forward. Well they will both have to toughen up and be a lot more involved to reach that level. We need mongrel! to progress in this comp.

!0 Year Member

Sixties, we know there are many pieces to the puzzle, to be successful, I personally have many reservations about Moses, even though the love TCT threw at him in 2017, which, in hindsight, was warranted (hey, we finished top 4), in 2018 he lived up to my expectations unfortunately and my (low) opinion of him. Now we have another young partner with him in the havles, I am starting to think we need enforcers to give (mitch at least, a second chance) the halves the best opportunity to be whom they can be… we have enough forwards to be dominant,… Read more »


I agree we need an enforcer style of player. Trust me on this, if we had 4 Ray Prices in the current squad, “it is all over red rover”. Whilst this enforcer is needed the reality is there is not that natural style or respect amongst our forwards at this point and we need to get over it. We can with the right approach. We maybe surprised who turns out to be the enforcer? Your comment about Moses is totally unfair and if you think giving him 3 games and dumping him is the answer you have little understanding of… Read more »

colin hussey

Pops, good post. I tend to agree with most of what you say, thing is that in Price’s days it was a different game, although he led by example and we had a captain when Edge arrived. Price in many ways as I watched the games back then was more the captain as far as pushing the team than Edge did, that is not taking anything away from Steve, but Steve was more the director and control captain, while Ray was the drovers dog style rounding the team up to ensure they worked together, but with most in those teams… Read more »

!0 Year Member

My main concerns are: – temperament. cannot acknowlege own failings but is quick to admonish those around him. too excitable on small things – no vision. keeps the head down and does not see the game playing out in front of him – game manager. does not know how to steer a team around, more luck when something goes right than planning. when the forwards are making inroads does not know how to utilise the space, expose deficiencies in the opposition – short kicking game, que?….the best kicks are where you get pumelled as you are taking to the line… Read more »

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