The Cumberland Throw

Opportunity Knocks – Who Will Answer The Call?

The Eels were dealt a heavy blow yesterday as news broke that the club was shutting down star rookie Dylan Brown for an indefinite period as they manage a lower back injury. In their weekly Tuesday live-stream, NRL.com put a 6-8 week window on the monitoring period for the injury but I dare say there are a lot of variables in play at the moment so fans shouldn’t get too committed to any recovery timeline just yet, for better or worse.

Brown had quickly endeared himself to the blue and gold faithful following an excellent preseason that carried through into the first three rounds of 2019. Yet it is easy to forget that while TCT faithful might have been quite familiar with Dylan’s exploits in the lower grades, most fans were unfamiliar with his name until the poaching saga from the New Zealand Warriors catapulted the young play-maker into the spotlight late last year.

The release of Corey Norman to the St George Illawarra Dragons presented Brown with an opportunity. The young Eel took that chance with both hands and as crazy as it seems, he now feels like an indispensable part of this emerging and exciting roster. Yet just as Brown was presented with an opportunity to better himself and earn a place in the NRL, so too does his injury present a new opportunity for another Eel to step up.

Jaeman Salmon, a young man barely older than Brown, is the individual that will heed the call this week as he faces his junior club in the Cronulla Sharks but the concept of opportunity knocking is quickly becoming a pervasive theme for the Eels in 2019.

Second-year starter Marata Niukore and Shaun Lane, a NRL journeyman, are performing more than admirably in the backrow amidst somewhat of an injury crisis there for Brad Arthur. Without the services of Manu Ma’u and Nathan Brown for a good portion of the season and with Tepai Moeroa being game-to-game – the Eels needed these two men to step up and they did.

Look to the left flank and you will see Maika Sivo, an unheralded project pick-up from Penrith, starting to make this mark on the team. Locked out of contact work for most of the preseason due to injury and behind the presumptive start in George Jennings, Sivo has capitalised on the window that George’s knee injury opened for him.

Of course there are also developing redemption arcs for the likes of Mitchell Moses, Michael Jennings and Kane Evans contributing to Parramatta’s early season surge. Hell, Clinton Gutherson’s bristling start to the season after returning to full health from brutal ACL injury in 2017 deserves a big mention here as well. The Eels needed, and still need, these senior players to turn up every week but the fresh blood and new faces are invigorating a team that no-one in the media gave much chance of making any noise in 2019.

So now the same question falls to the likes of Salmon and Oregon Kaufusi as Parramatta draw deep on both their depth and youth due to uncontrollable circumstances. Will they answer the call? Can they turn opportunity into something greater – for both themselves and the team? Obviously I don’t want to burden either player with unnecessary expectation but seeing so many Eels already step-up in what was billed as a write-off or rebuild year has been a fascinating sub-plot to the start of 2019.

There are few tougher assignments for these two young men than the Cronulla Sharks – one of Parramatta’s real bogey teams in recent years. Still, if the form of the likes of Brown, Sivo, Niukore and Lane is any indicator – back them to hold down the fort…and maybe even go a bit better!

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Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

The amount of injures so early in the season is hard to grasp, but if nothing else it will give other players the opportunity to show what they can do. Sadly with DB, being slight as far as his tall frame goes, gives someone else the chance to show what he can do, and we basically don’t lose much at all. There are several young forwards that can step up as well, a couple whose contracts end at the end of the year, and they are presented with a wonderful opportunity to make a mark in the NRL run on… Read more »

Adam
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Adam

That’s three years running we’ve had above average injuries to our roster to start a season. Not just in NRL but ISP too. The number of lower leg and knee injuries has not gone unnoticed by me and I hope the Eels are reviewing their S&C programs as this can’t be purely due to chance.

sixties
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You have to examine the way that the leg injury has occurred. We have two joint injuries (Stefano and Manu) which both came out of the St Mary’s trial and a short term calf injury to Gower. It’s impossible to prevent injuries in contact sport, but as you’d rightly counter, you do what you can to prehabilitate – prepare the body against injury. Have we got any injuries that would be preventable? I don’t think we have – do you?

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

sixties, I often wonder when I see some of the leg, knee and ankle injuries if its in part due to the ground conditions, chooks player Morris is an example of the surface at Brokevale. Most modern surfaces are not too bad especially in their holding up in wet conditions, but have seen other grounds including Suncorp also creating injuries. Thing to me more often than not is the amount of defenders that are more often than not involved in tackles, that includes some form of wrestling and/or domination in pushing a player backwards. That is what I saw happen… Read more »

Adam
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Adam

If we look at the last three seasons we’ve consistently been among the most injured squads in the NRL. There has to be a reason for that. Getting the boys back to training early and flogging them only works if they can stay fit through the season with the extra training load. We lost plenty of game time to leg injuries last year and it’s not a good start to 2019 (Tepai missed a game to a calf injury too).

Bob jay
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Bob jay

So come back later and send them out underdone ?

Adam
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Adam

Hard to say if they would have been preventable. I didn’t see Manu go down but NRL physio was surprised Stefano had injured himself so easily given there appeared to be little going on in the tackle. To me, that possibly signals a body that had been asked to do too much over a prolonged period. It’s a very fine line between being the fittest, strongest team in the NRL and being the most over-trained. I am only an armchair critic and am most likely way off the mark, but I was concerned about this last season and haven’t seen… Read more »

Bob jay
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Bob jay

Stay in your armchair adam ,its a tough game and all teams experience it .

Bubbles
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Bubbles

Foran, napa , tommy turbo , woods ,gallen ,johnson , moylan ,cronk ,simms ,widdop just to name a few all injured playing adam !!!!!!!!

Bob jay
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Bob jay

Its been my experience you cant prevent game injurys just have the right people and systems in place to remedy them

Bob jay
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Bob jay

All our injurys have been in games , theres no preventing that and youve seen our preparation sixties its 2nd to none and a credit to our conditioning staff , its a tough sport !!!!

BDon
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BDon

Interesting that the Roosters have just mentioned that their top players didn’t start pre-season til after New Year, but already Cronk,Friend and JWH are keeping St Johns busy. It’s just a hard game, and the bigger, stronger, fitter they are, the pain and injury is not going to decrease.
Last year I was starting to cringe watching Nathan Brown doing a front rowers hit ups with his lighter body, no offloads, scarce support – he became easy meat for brutal gang hits. Much higher risk of injury.

Big Derek
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Big Derek

Buzz Rothfield picked Salmon as his rookie of the year last season given the esteem that he was held in at the Sharks. Injury held him back until the end of the season and again he was suspended for the first game of this season. Those that saw Salmon in the Ball final when he almost singlehandedly won the game for the Sharks in the final 10 minutes, playing at 5/8, are hoping that form translates into something close in the NRL. We are fortunate to have those 2 talented young players on our roster, they need time to mature,… Read more »

Bob jay
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Bob jay

Opportunity knocks , grab it .

Milo
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Milo

Do not have an answer abt the injuries but it’s frustration to say the least.
We just need to hang tough and compete and back each other.
We don’t want more injuries to the halves / playmakers – Cronulla always tough and niggle more than others.
Forwards to have a big game and lay the foundations.