The Cumberland Throw

Eels miss their boy George but show forward progress is the plan

A flurry of news caught the the attention of all Parramatta fans yesterday as NRL.com reporter Michael Chammas led with the story that the Eels were close to brokering a deal for South Sydney prop George Burgess worth $1.8 million over three years. The blockbuster deal would have seen Burgess join the Eels immediately for the 2019 season to headline a revamped forward pack alongside Junior Paulo. Unfortunately, the deal would fall through with George choosing to stay with his brothers and roll the dice on earning a lucrative deal elsewhere.

Still, this was the clearest indication of the recruitment strategy moving forwards; build this thing inside-out and and from front-to-back.

That isn’t to say that the Eels would turn their nose up at premier talent in other positions if they were to become available at the right price but adding both consistency and explosive play-making ability to the forward pack has clearly been identified as a key moving forwards.

The near-miss for newly established Head of Football Mark O’Neill is unfortunate but the vision should not be faulted. A consistent ruck platform is almost always one of the hallmarks of a premiership contender and a recruit like George Burgess would have simultaneously augmented the Eels’ forward pack from Day 1 while also acting as a bridging piece to facilitate the development of young players like Oregon Kaufusi and Stefano Utoikamanu.

So where does this leave the Eels as we head into the 2019 season?

We know that they have a considerable chunk of their 2019 salary cap still available at their disposal following the departure of Corey Norman. However, there is no guarantee that the Eels will be able to spend it externally on a difference maker in the forward pack given that we are but three weeks out from the first round.

Resources would have already been allocated towards promoting Reed Mahoney and Dylan Brown into the Top 30 for this season but there is also the consideration towards looming extensions for both these young men and potentially the likes of Clinton Gutherson, Mitchell Moses, Daniel Alvaro and Tepai Moeroa.

Still, we live in an era of unprecedented salary cap and roster volatility. Even as I blog this short piece the Cronulla Sharks and Wests Tigers are still under investigation for alleged salary cap breaches levied against them by the NRL in 2018. The player market could be blown open on any given day and the Eels are at least positioned to make a play for any premier talent that is forced out by the pinch of the salary cap.

Corey Norman (St George Illawarra Dragons), David Klemmer (Newcastle Knights), Shaun Johnson (Cronulla Sharks), Josh McGuire (North Queensland Cowboys), Jordan Kahu (North Queensland Cowboys), Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Canberra Raiders) while the media are also speculatively billing Robert Jennings (Wests Tigers) to move on in the coming days.

David Klemmer stands out as the biggest miss there for Parramatta but it should be remembered that we did not have the requisite funds available at the time as Corey Norman was still on our books. Klemmer himself also professed a need to get out of Sydney.

Ultimately, we now have a sound recruitment strategy that if executed well will build around key pieces that are already at the club. In that light, who do you think the Eels should identify as a key recruitment piece for 2020? Or is there someone that you think will be available this season? Do they revisit the off-contract George Burgess or is there another forward that you think could be the difference-maker for the Blue & Gold?

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Eel Nut
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Eel Nut

Forties, mate I was really hoping for Marty Taupau to come our way! That whole saga and speculation has gone really quiet. I think I read he is staying at Manly. I hope I’m wrong!!!

Peter Zuccolotto
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Peter Zuccolotto

Yep he is seeing out his contract which ends in 2020

Milo
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Milo

Personally I do not know which other prop but Burgess would have been ok at the RIGHT Price and as someone experienced mentioned to me the $$$$ being floated around seemed high. Tapau imo was way too much in what was rumoured.
I still think another exp dummy half is the way to go but who? No idea.
I like that we went after Burgess again.
I wonder if rumoured cap issues for some clubs may help us?

Craig
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Craig

I think it’s great if the GBurgess ship has sailed. Too many $$ for an inconsistent prop. We ought be going after the sharks who may have to drop a player in the next couple of weeks. The younger Brailey at hooker would be best, then promote Utoikamanu to top 30 (and probably drop A Davies out of 30) for a healthier squad. Possibly too big an if there though.

Milo
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Milo

Good points though Craig. An up and coming prop / hooker would both be good IMO. I sense there is going to be some movement within parra this season with the amount of players coming off contract.

Mark Formosa
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Mark Formosa

Agree with all. Parra should go for Brandon Smith from Melbourne he would be perfect for us.

John Eel
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John Eel

According to social media Luke is on his way.

Milo
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Milo

That would be good IMO John.

John Eel
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John Eel

Agree Milo

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

From my perspective George has the least ability out of the 3 brothers, has also been suspended too much for my liking. I would rather see our young guns given more a go for the top grade than signing Georgy.

mitch
Admin

I’m afraid Top 30 is dependent on salary, and Development Players moving into the Top 30 have a capped price. Top 30 is not an option of the club, but a set group of players depending on their contracts. As a result, I’d say Davey is in our Top 30 until his contract expires.

Poppa
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Poppa

Craig mentioned Davies, are you talking about Davey Mitch?

panic
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panic

I think he’s referring to Andrew Davey, a new signing from Mackay Cutters. Good second rower, plays big minutes, good defender and nice soft hands.

Glenn
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Glenn

Gower would be the obvious forward to drop out of the 30, he could retire and be employed full time by the club.

Leo toohey
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Leo toohey

And just how do you think you can drop a player out of squad craig , think !!!

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

Graig from what I understand of the NRL rules is that the last player signed with a club like the Sharks in SJ has to be released as he was the last player signed. So I can’t see us going after Bailey. Sharks won’t let him go n plus we don’t need another young DH we have Mahoney n Schneider. We need to try again with GB or someone else

Poppa
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Poppa

I don’t understand why we would chase a new young hooker, when we have two outstanding candidates, is the younger Brailey a genuine prop as well?
Finally Davies is not in the top 30 is he? I understood he was a Wenty purchase…..

Soren Lorenson
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Soren Lorenson

Davey, Andrew, not Davies, Rys. Second rower from North Qld. In the top 30.

John Eel
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John Eel

Forty I think this is good and I agree with your thoughts. The trick for O’Neill, without stating the obvious, will be one to get the contracts right. They need to be astute in the values and length of contract. This means being being mindful of what juniors are coming through. I think that there will always be times when positions can’t be covered by juniors coming through the system. If you look at the Roosters they won the GF and still made 3 big signings. Creighton, Morris and Ryan the English winger. I like what the Eels have done… Read more »

Milo
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Milo

Fair call John, no doubt the Warriors will attempt to hold Brown off till later in the year and throw $$$$ huge amounts at him. Parra seem to have made a call on Brown in regards to upgrading till 2020 and then hopefully lock him up again, as long as he does well. From all reports he looks ok, and just needs some time. My issue is what happens if Moses does not have a good season?

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Milo if Moses does not have a good season, then I would be looking at Gutho to 6 with Brown at 7. Moses though is playing for his future so he should go better this year.

Milo
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Milo

Fair call mate; i imagine a few things will occur this season which could be good but also concerning in terms of being unsettled.

Drew
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Drew

With the sharks being under investigation, Flanagan, Blayke Brailey, Xerri would be excellent pick ups. From other clubs that are feeling the pinch, Sandor Earl and Kasiono I feel would be good cheap depth buys. As for a “star” signing I would be throwing the absolute bank at Marty, give him the #10 Jersey + 850k a year. Money talks

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Latrell Mitchell I would chase with an open check book, he will demand a massive increase to his next contract which I believe is 2020 he is unsigned, we should make him club captain & hit him with an offer he can not say no too & Nicky baby can not match without letting talent go.

Micky
Guest

Mitchell won’t leave the Roosters for any amount of money. If Moses doesn’t work out I would be chasing Townsend from the Sharks. Watched the semi final Sharks vs Panthers last night and Townsend absolutely killed them. He has a great passing game and kicking game plus he can kick goals. Sharks keep talking up young Flanagan and Townsend is not assured of a starting berth.

Poppa
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Poppa

Latrell Mitchell, young, unbelievably talented is a pretty average human being. He may mature into something very special, but you have to be wary when you are buying a big name player with an even bigger ego!

Milo
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Milo

I can see that point Pop’s; very talented but has the other side that a few young fellas seem to have

Tragiceel
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Tragiceel

If Mitchell is out of reach I would go after Joseph Manu, the Roosters would not be able to keep both.

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

Good read 40/20. I like the way the club is noticing that we need another big body n going after big George Burgess. For the $$$ being talked about it seems mad for him to turn it down. Considering that South’s might not offer him a contract beyond next yr. I’m shocked that he turned it down but if it’s true that ppl close to him have told him to take it then the only reason why I think he didn’t take it was because Benny said no. It will be Benny that says he can go at the end… Read more »

Poppa
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Poppa

I think the real lesson here is that $$$ do not always speak if it is a club you don’t respect or want to play for. A lot of discussion and criticism here and on the other site is implied poor recruitment or wow too much money. We were coming out of that in 2017 with the excellent management and the perception of a top class coach and a very tight knit club. The damage that the season from hell provided to many that our problems had not gone away and we are still a basket case. Loyal supporters like… Read more »

John Eel
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John Eel

The Roosters pack appears to be getting smaller each year. They have lost Evans and Napa in the last two seasons.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Any more training reports on the way or are they finished for the pre season?

!0 Year Member
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!0 Year Member

Great post Forty20. I do not know the answer, but sure as hell hope our front office is starting to work it out. As you stated, most winnning teams have powerful forwards and the analysis Sixties did on premiership winning teams having top shelf players, I see us as needing to recruit players whom are in the top 5 for their position. Fergo is a step in the right direction, but we need more. Fifita would be perfect for us, the Bob O of our time. Lets hope the sharkies have to let him go.

BluengoldJim
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BluengoldJim

Jai Arrow is off contract in 2020 he’d be a great pick up. I know we’d have almost no chance but frizells contract will run out to, theres a player I’d love to see in the blue n gold.

John Eel
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John Eel

Both of those would be better than Fifita. Why would you invite a bloke like that into your club. He is such a divisive personality. It would be Kenny Edwards on steroids.

Trouser Eel
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Trouser Eel

Burgess reminds me of Penni a few years back. Feet for hands in the main but brilliant moments that justified persistence.
Any chance of career stats of our current pack against Burgess?

Anthony
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Anthony

I can’t for the life of me see why we’re targeting Isaac Luke. He’s past his best and Mahoney had eclipsed him imo. What we should be targeting now is either forward depth or a right centre. That’s all we’re actually in need of now. We need to concentrate on the good young guys coming through

parrathruandthru
Guest
parrathruandthru

I don’t know where the Marty Taupau love comes from. Can anybody tell me what he has done since that personal battle with Matagi 2 years which was a few big hits that everybody seems to remember. Not worth more than $300k in my opinion, and I’m being generous. I might have a different opinion if he was younger

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Can I ask the question were is fillia Stephano brother ? I thought he was better than Stephano.