The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training – February 26, 2019: The Names Shine

For much of this pre-season I’ve highlighted the inspirational contributions of the Eels younger brigade. I make no apologies for that. They’ve added a new dimension to the preparations for the year ahead. The tight bond and determination of these players has added a transfusion of energy and positivity to the Old Saleyards headquarters.

In retrospect, I’ve provided very little insight to the work of the established players. Maybe I’ve taken their efforts for granted. Maybe they’ve been overshadowed on the training paddock by these youthful intruders.

Today it was impossible to ignore some of our seasoned campaigners.

In a session which consisted of skills development, attacking drills and opposed footy, a number of the experienced players stood tall.

Go Munz!

Manu Ma’u provided a reminder of his aggressive running and underrated passing game. One particularly powerful charge at the line resulted in a try as he got his arms free for the offload and put the support player across next to the posts.

Tepai Moeroa was playing a middle role and presented a difficult target for the defence with charges that showcased his pace and step. His 110kg frame is larger than the 2018 version and today continued his impressive pre-season.

Mannah on the charge.

Tim Mannah was heavily involved in today’s contest as he demonstrated how to earn a quick play the ball on the back of strong hit ups. He also backed up the play to score a try.

Blake Ferguson was a steadying influence in defence, keeping his team mates focussed with his talk. His carries are replicating his form for the Roosters and he can be heard mentoring others on positioning and how to take runs.

On a side note, Fergo makes for an interesting study on the training paddock. He has the capacity to switch from focussed and inspirational mentor and leader during the tough grind, to joker during the down times. I see his presence as a major influence in 2019.

The defensive commitment is etched on their faces.

At 22, Marata Niukore is still new to the NRL but he was another to shine this morning, and just like Tepai, his pre-season has indicated further development in his game. An impressive break and offload in this opposed session resulted in a try assist for the Cook Island International.

The defensive collisions were big, and Daniel Alvaro featured in a number of these. But it wasn’t just the big hits. There was desperation on the try line as the Gold were determined to hold their line intact. There were a couple of sloppy moments in the Canberra trial so the commitment evidenced today was a positive sign that the team are working to restore a defensive grit.

Brown finds support on the back of his break.

But even with such a positive session for certain individuals, the most impressive aspect of the morning was the support play. In my opinion it was the best of this pre-season, so much so that it unexpectedly caught my eye.

To elaborate, I wanted to watch today’s training from an individual perspective – to write a report which shone the light on the outstanding performers from the day. And this happened.

However, virtually every half chance or line break was backed up. And the result was an impressive collection of tries. Yes it was just an opposed session, but the habit of support is a winning one – and I’m hoping it’s going to become addictive.

And for those who question the challenge of opposed sessions, some insight was provided by Chris Lawrence when speaking on Triple M last weekend. Questioned about the secret trial between the Tigers and the Dogs, he said that it was good to take on an opponent who didn’t know your plays. When taking on team mates in opposed sessions, the breaks can be harder to come by because the plays are known, the alternate plays are also known and the individual player traits are embedded in the memory banks.

There’s few surprises playing against your own.

Can the Eels deliver more of their training track form to the playing field this year? The upcoming trial against Panthers is still just that – a trial. However, I’ll be looking for moments in the trial that are indicative of the direction the squad has worked for during this pre-season.

Fans will get to see whether the players can deliver encouraging signs against their opponents this Saturday night.

See you there.

Eels forever!

Sixties

http://www.starrpartners.com.au/office/starr-partners-narellan

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Grunta
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Grunta

Thanks Sixties. I’m really looking forward to the Panthers trial this weekend and it is so good that the trials are finally being streamed. I’ve read so many of your off season reports and something I’ve read that keeps popping up quite often it seems is,’Brown made a break down field’. I am excited to see how this kid handles the rigorous nature of NRL footy week to week and his talents on show. Also, it’s great that Fergo has become a leader and settled in so quickly. I wonder if Minichello was a big influence on Fergo, barking orders… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

I doubt it seeing Minichello retired before Fergo joined the Roosters in 2015.

Grunta
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Grunta

Ahhhh, good point.
Fergo has certainly come of age since he joined the Roosters however, for whatever reasons culminating in him getting winger of the year last season.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Mini has been heavily involved in coaching while Fergo at chooks. I think that’s what he was referring too.

DDay
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DDay

A positive update Sixties, thanks. Good to hear improved communication, leadership, players backing up and, the personal development of some of our key players. The Penrith trial becomes al itmuss test; can the Eels convert training form into game form?

mitch
Admin

DDay, when are we catching another game together mate?

DDay
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DDay

Looking forward to catching up at the new stadium

Poppa
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Poppa

It will be interesting to see how both sides approach this upcoming trial with the perspective of them playing against each other on 16th March. The Panthers side was announced overnight and they look very stable in the sense that they have not added much. I suspect they will working through well known motions and looking to settle themselves into a warming up the engines process. Our side will be more disjointed with the stability in a playing together sense much more important, not in terms of a scoreboard result but working together offensively and defensively. My guess is first… Read more »

Milo
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Milo

Pop’s i have often wondered if coaches chat before trials to discuss teams about fielding stronger sides for part of the match. It would not surprise me and makes some sense.
I am the same and just want to see the halves and dummy half take control as much as they can with the forwards being dominant; there will be huge pressure on penriff this season, and Gould too! Hope Ivan Cleary does not need another break because he is too tired…

Milo
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Milo

superb insight again Sixties and i look forward seeing the forwards play with some added bulk which we missed last season. I cannot help but think the referees stifled the playing style that teams like us wanted to play in 2018 due to the number of stop and start games. The interesting note are those 1%ers in support play; communication; numbers in defence; things the v good teams have ingrained in them…..footy is not and should not be a difficult game to play and to keep things simple is imperative. On another note i look forward (maybe) to hear the… Read more »

Longfin Eel
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Longfin Eel

That’s great to see some support play in the team. We have definitely lacked that over the past few years. We have the players who can do some damage on the back of second phase play with their pace and agility so we should be using this to our advantage. Parra are never going to grind away a victory in the Melbourne mould so it’s good to see some tactics that work for us.

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

A very good read sixties, I will be sitting in front of my computer/laptop for the match atm, as the other main computer was cooked in the lightning strike a couple of weeks back and waiting for its replacement. There is more I suspect in this report than what is actually said, and it reads well, without looking in to more than is expressed. I actually wonder how much of the new plays will be on show in the trial owing to the main game a couple of weeks later? without giving too many game aspects away? I will be… Read more »

Craig
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Craig

Hearing of the support play is encouraging. It does not matter if the eels win or lose the trial this weekend. It matters if they have that ferocious and frenzied defence that was the hallmark of the 2016 and 2017 BA sides. The confidence and offense and success flowed effortlessly. Did not see it even when they won last year and, to be honest, did not see it in the recent trial. If BA manages to bring that back then success in the long run is guaranteed. I guess this trial will go toward seeing if that defence returns or… Read more »

John Eel
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John Eel

Disappointed to read about Kaysa taking time out of the game. I wish him all the best for the future.

Bob jay
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Bob jay

Not many have given much more than kaysa ,small frame ,huge heart,wish you well kaysa .

Jetta
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Jetta

Great write up Sixties. Has Fergo done any training in the centres or is he viewed predominantly as a winger?

The rev aka Snedden
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The rev aka Snedden

I think we have to stop having trials vs Penrith Panthers b4 we play them in Rd 1. It makes no sense they will know our plays n ours there’s we need the teams to play against each other later in the yr not Rd 1

rowdy roddy
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rowdy roddy

Great report again Sixties, I just saw our squads for the game against the Riff on Saturday.
I reckon that’s about the safest and strongest side we could field for this this weekend without totally negating our existing/remaining combinations. The new look “big bodies threequarterline” has plenty of tough competitors with speed, skill and strength to match Panthers. The forwards look formidable with lots of pressure coming from the bench.
We will not be bullied with this side running out. No-one can expect a free ride here either.

Poppa
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Poppa

I disagree with your comment re big bodies 3/4 line Rowdy. There is basically no change with the exception of Ferguson who obviously make’s a singular huge difference. I am disappointed that Taka is there, he offers little for us in terms of strike and a better choice would have been Sivo on a wing and Ferguson in the centres with French outside him instead of Gennings. Now this may still happen at a point but trials are for the purpose of seeing what may happen. The backline that I just outlined has a huge X factor attack wise and… Read more »

Longfin Eel
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Longfin Eel

Poppa, I see Taka just filling a void until Salmon is available. This means the other players can settle into their positions without the disruption of moving them around over the first few weeks. It’s good that we can test this during the trial and if it doesn’t work then change something during that trial match. I imagine Gutho may spend some time at centre as well given French is playing fullback in the Wenty squad.

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Longy, tend to agree.I see Taka as a handy stop gap, in the centres as I still remember he did ok when working with Semi, who got the ball from Take as against the other centre. Also not sure how Salmon will go at either 6 as he is in the ISP trial or even in the centres. To me if French shows up well in ISP its very possible for Gutho to be in the centres for Salmon’s penalty match and Bev at fullback.

Poppa
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Poppa

Finney, I don’t want to put the knock or the jinx on Salmon, but he has not shown us enough yet to say he is better than Taka, so I hope he shows up somewhere but I not sure how ready he is for 5/8 or centre, I note that Col seems to have a similar view. Putting this another way is that French was never suited as a finisher last year given the backline we had…..minus Semi. I think Guth gives us a safe option at fullback and allows him to come into the game where and when ever… Read more »

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Poppa, a lot of supposition in these blogs, the issue facing the coaching staff is with the players and they wanting akin to demanding they want to play in x position, that’s not confined to French either. I have not seen enough of Salmon to say one way or another whether he is a 3 or 6, he’s name at 6 with Wenty tomorrow night, but that match is not being streamed. He is then out until round 2 and that means a compromise centre for one match, so who goes in, Gutho for French to play FB, or Fergie… Read more »

John Eel
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John Eel

Colin I read somewhere that Salmon spent most of his junior years at Second row. Sixties or Forty may know more.

Poppa
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Poppa

Colin, the nature of these discussions is just that, I don’t believe the players can demand anything, other than what’s given to them. Ferguson for the sake of a trial may be happy to play in the centres……he is probably along with Guth the only one entitled to tell anybody what they want as against what they may prefer. I am just looking for things out of the box and I should remind myself of what I have been saying all week in that not too many hands will be shown in a trial 2 weeks before the actual match… Read more »

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Pops we’re on the same page, thing is that I have read interviews with both Bev a & Gutho saying their preferred position is as fullback, and not sure that I have said they have demanded it, rather the word want is the strongest they used. As this night is a trial only what I would like to have seen is the numbers should started at 1 through to 35, as it makes things easier to identify who’s who in interchange, especially if any from the Wenty branded ISP team do get a run in the 2nd half as they… Read more »

Milo
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Milo

Pop’s i can agree about Stephano, and guess who do we leave out? but i would have added him to the NRL squad for the trial.

Shelley
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Shelley

Thank you sixties, a very good read. But my only comments today are for Kaysa Pritchard. I would hope he finds strength from the support offered to
him from Parra fans today. His health is the only important thing to consider. Best wishes Kaysa on a bright, happy and fulfilled future.