After a brief recess, it’s back to business for the Eels pre-season training blog. With the team training specifically for their Canberra trial last week, I suspended my reports. The annual school blitz has been on the agenda this week, causing some changes to the usual schedule. The schools visits are now complete, so a typical timetable was restored today.
However, there was nothing typical about this morning. In a marathon session which lasted just on three hours, the players responded with some of their sharpest work of the pre-season.
Today also saw Nathan Brown return to full contact. There was no easing in for the tough middle forward. The collisions tested him out and he came through without showing any signs of discomfort.
Prior to the opposed work, the players spent an extensive period in warm ups and skills development. The skills rehearsed would later be on display during some expansive play in the opposed work.
NRL referees Gavin Badger and Gerard Sutton were officiating today, and were also put to use during defensive drills.
Different scenarios were practised during the opposed work, including building a set for field goals.
The players seemed to be given more opportunity to analyse and organise themselves during breaks in play. Without giving anything away, it was interesting to hear them remind each other of the things they were doing well and also what they needed to improve.
In my opinion, getting the talk right is going to be integral to this season. It’s time for Eels players to find their voice. It’s drummed into them during their conditioning and reinforced during the opposed sessions. It can’t be just the “leaders”. All players have to communicate, especially in defence. Blokes like Ferguson are leading the way. Young players such as Parry are good talkers. Tepai has stepped up and the captains are always barking. But we need it to be everyone.
* Salmon and Takairangi alternating at centre
* George Jennings playing left wing in the Gold team
* Maika Sivo impressing with powerful running for the Red team
* Gowie leading the Reds
* Ferguson continuing his impressive pre-season leadership, reminding others of their roles
* Mitch Moses playing a composed brand of footy with Marata and Taka both beneficiaries of his play as they crossed for tries
* Dylan Brown scoring a superb individual try
* Kane Evans forcing his way over for a four pointer
In addition to the halves, Michael Jennings was one of the best on field. The middle forwards did a good job of bending the line and creating space for the outside men and Jennings utilised his pace to capitalise on his opportunities.
In the Red team, Gowie and Will Smith were two of the strongest performers with Parry and Sivo impressing on the left side.
Bevan French enjoyed a solid session for the Reds, bobbing up dangerously in attack and getting heavily involved in a busy display. Hopefully he gained some confidence from the All Stars clash.
Images were captured today by Eels media showing the goal kicking showdown between Junior, Marata and Tepai. Such contests have been taking place over recent weeks, and in recent seasons it’s been for both bragging rights and for coffees. Though it’s a bit of fun, these blokes can actually deliver a mean strike. Tepai in particular has long shown a bit of ability with the boot, and I’d back him in at most of these training contests. He can even pop over a field goal on occasion. Of course, executing under pressure during a match might be a different kettle of fish.
We’re only three weeks away from the season opener and therefore the training blogs will soon come to a close. I’m currently working on a post which will examine the differences between the last two pre-seasons, as well as providing an overview of how some individual players have prepared.
Next week will see the team gearing up for their final trial when they take on the Panthers. This will be the second trial for most players, and the third for a number. It’s a bigger ask this year, and the results of such a lead up will be evident in the early season form.