In late June, the Parramatta Eels released their strategic plan. An important component of that plan related to player development.
“To be the premier development club in the NRL and deliver sustainable on-field success including regular finals football.”
To that end, it’s worthwhile for Parramatta Eels fans to be updated with key achievements or events in the development pathway for players in the Eels junior system.
Starting on July 14, and concluding on July 19, the Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League Under 18 Championship will be conducted in Canberra. This championship is effectively the selection trial for the Australian Schoolboys team which is announced following the final. A multitude of NRL players have trodden this path during their rugby league career.
The Parramatta Eels will be well represented at these championships via the following players:
(All players from Westfield Sports High School)
(All players from St Pats Blacktown)
Special note should be taken of the age of these players. The majority of the Eels players are only 17 this year, and were playing in Harold Matthews in 2018. Tyler Field and David Tui will be the sole 18 year olds in the Eels contingent.
There are, unfortunately, some hard luck stories.
Jayden Skinner was selected for NSWCCC but had to withdraw due to injury. Viliami Penisini was unavailable due to surgery and other strong contenders such as Sean Russell, Taylor Mauala and Matt Komalafe missed the selection trials due to injury. It’s fair to say that each of those boys could easily have forced their way into a team.
I recently watched a high quality Schoolboys Cup clash between St Pats and Hills Sports at Guildford. St Pats took the honours that day, and it wasn’t hard to see why with so many of the NSWCCC players in their team. I thought that their forwards laid a strong platform (they are well served with the likes of Maetele, Taateo, Skinner and Betham-Misa) and the halves pairing of Jakob Arthur and Tyler Field guided the team superbly. Field is a very strong competitor and Arthur’s game management is very advanced for a player who doesn’t turn 17 till later this year. Loizou also impressed out wide.
There has been some publicity with Isaiah Vailalo joining the Eels program. The talented prop recently competed in the Queensland Fraternity Shield competition, and from that was named in the QISSRL Merit Team. If you’re interested in checking out his highlights package, you can find it here.
Pictured alongside Vailalo is Charlie Murray. Charlie is also in the Eels program and won the player of the tournament in the Fraternity Shield. He was extremely unlucky not to make the Queensland Maroons team for the Australian Championships. In fact, Charlie was TCT’s standout player at an SG Ball Trial against the Bulldogs in January this year.
Finally, I need to make mention of two younger Eels players who recently competed in the Australian Secondary Schools Under 15s Championship. Cody Parry (brother of Ethan) and Miles Martin caught the eye as under age players at the Eels Harold Matthews trials earlier this year and I’d expect them to see plenty of action in 2020. Cody and Miles performed strongly at the Championships and as a result were named in the Australian Merit Team.
Congratulations to both boys on such a fine achievement.
Becoming a professional player is a tough road and another step altogether past this point. Not all junior stars become NRL players and not all NRL players were representative standouts as juniors. But no matter where their rugby league careers take them, these young footballers should feel proud of their achievements and enjoy such moments.
We wish them success.