The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training – January 24, 2020: A Hard Day’s Morning

Sometimes a training session doesn’t go as planned.

The ball goes down a bit too much, passes don’t find the mark, and the team just doesn’t seem to be on the same page.

If it was possible, I’d insert vision of today’s field work for use as an exemplar. It really didn’t quite click for the Eels this morning, and everything seemed to be just that much harder to execute in the final opposed session of the week.

But it’s not all bad news. They say the best learning comes from errors. Therefore, BA and his staff would have seen plenty to take away from today. More on that later.

Conditions were challenging as the sound of thunder became the prelude for the heavens opening up. Even our covered viewing area provided restricted shelter to the sweeping downpour. Still, rugby league is an outdoor winter sport, so that could hardly be used as an excuse for the less than acceptable football on display.

Then there’s the little matter of the Gold form today. It was a deserved three tries to two result and a focussed performance.

Fatigue was produced by alternating tackle and running drills, and the interspersing of four tackle touch footy during the opposed work. There was little time to rest. In fact, probably the only respite came when the play was stopped for a few choice words from BA. I couldn’t hear what was said, but I can make a fair guess.

Here’s how I saw the session:

The Good

Don’t be too alarmed by the criticisms that I’ve levelled at the team. There were positives to be found across the two hours, including:

* A clean break by Rhys Davies to set up the first try to the Golds. It was way too easy but credit to Davies for taking advantage of the opportunity. The 2019 Wenty half continues to push his claims for a contract upgrade and a potential bench spot.

* An 80 metre intercept try to Ethan Parry. A Blues shift to the left saw a pass not find its mark and Parry showed a clean pair of heels to streak away untouched.

Ryan Matterson

* A try to Fergo on the back of impressive work by Moses on the right.

* An incisive run from Matto from around his own quarter that saw him surge 30 metres downfield.

* Sivo putting the finishing touches to a heads up play by Dylan Brown. The Gold winger had come infield to effect an essential tackle but was then stuck at marker, leaving that side of the field down a defender. Dylan didn’t need a second invitation to direct the following play down that side, and simple numbers advantage, combined with crisp passing, opened a passage for the big Fijian to score.

* Strong carries by the Blue’s back five in returning kicks. On his first carry of the session, it took four defenders to bring Sivo down.

* A more focussed back half of the opposed session, and the associated improved talk.

The Awful

There was no shortage of moments that the coaches could look at in their review, but for mine the following summed up the substandard aspects:

* Far too many pushed plays put the Blues under pressure. The composure from a couple of players should have been much better.

Rhys Davies

* The Gold’s final try – there was too much space afforded to them.

* The Blue kickers couldn’t quite find the mark, with a number of kicks finding the dead ball line and gifting 20 metre re-starts.

A Quick Analysis

There’s actually a positive to be found in a session that doesn’t measure up.

From a preseason perspective it provides future coaching moments in addition to a reality check about where the team is at.

From the start of play today, it was obvious that some of the Blues didn’t have their head in the game. The talk wasn’t quite right, the timing was off, and the execution was poor. As mentioned earlier, a break in play saw the squad brought together for a few choice words. The footy definitely improved from there, but it remained below what the coaches would have desired.


The Apprentice Camp

This week’s apprentices

The Eels website currently has media coverage of last week’s football apprentice camp. During their time together, the young players from Queensland, the Northern Territory, New Zealand and country NSW are provided with a variety of the experiences that NRL players might encounter in a typical week. As the lads learn a bit more about what’s required in professional football, the club also learns a bit more about what makes them tick.

This week saw another group of “apprentices” come into camp. This group was from New Zealand and Queensland and comprised players whose football schedule clashed with last week’s camp. I had the opportunity to meet the group as they watched this morning’s session with Eels recruitment manager, Anthony Field. Time with BA and Dylan Brown was slotted in for them after training finished.

Eels forever!




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Colin Hussey

Thanks for the report sixties. While it was not the exciting type that we are used to, this report really has more in it than the other ones that seemed to be just too positive without the aspect of reality. Reality that is two sided, and when its all good and exciting easy to lose sight of the fact that it can also bring into play the aspect of over confidence.

Better to see some negatives when training rather than when points are crucial with the main game.


Hey Sixties and Eels tragics, Long time no comment from me. Thanks again for the preseason wraps and keeping us all informed. Apologies in advance for the long comment but I have a few points/questions to discuss; * Night footy. Over the years the Eels have played their best expansive footy during dry day games. We have often been let down in night conditions as its dewy and less conducive for Eels footy. This was shown clearly from our Broncos final to Storm final last year. How often to we train at night? Do other clubs do this. I’m also… Read more »


Your point about Parra playing some of there best running footy on a warm sunny day is a good one and was also applicable in our early 80s salad days. So I agree perhaps we should be doing some game simulation style training at night. As long as it doesnt detract from our day form, lol.
ps i always thought we played some of our most exciting early to mid 80s footy in that gold jersey we wore on alternate games.

matt sweeney

oh im matt sweeney btw,

Matthew Sweeney

Thanks Sixties , I try to read as much as possible time permitting.
Glad to hear we have done some night training. I can’t help but feel this could be our year. I hope matto
Can share as much as possible about his experience at the roosters
Because they have been the template for success in the last two years.


Re 4 sixties: the standard playbook must have a paragraph, maybe a chapter, headed ‘The Left Jab: Using the Media’


Tks sixties. Is Waqa Blake the only Top 30 player not in full training?


Well Sixties that;s a refreshing tale of the tape after the disappointment of Wednesday’s no training. I drove away from Kellyville with the contentment of knowing “If they went early? it was for good reason! So off back to work I went, glad to have work to go back to”. Your reports more often than not give insights into elements of the sessions that I either missed when I’d been there? or was oblivious to it’s subliminal life when absent until exposed by you such as these Parra apprentice camps. Keeping us abreast of these pathways gives fans an in-depth… Read more »


Great to hear about the apprentice camps taking place over the last 2 weeks. Anthony Field and his staff do a bloody fantastic job!
Speaking of juniors does anyone know how the junior rep sides went in their trials against Penrith?


Thanks Sixties!! Yes the teams have had awful luck with the previous trials hopefully it doesn’t impact the opening rounds too much, a trip to Canberra first up will be tough.
Very keen to see how the external recruits in sg ball go – have heard good things about Brazel and Sa’u.

Big Derek

Ball beat Penrith comfortably,dominated up front with Jontay, Jay Vakai and Pater Taatao prominent, also good display from the halfback from Dalby, Josh Chappell.

Saw Matts on Thursday night, Eels never really in the game, got beat 4 tries to 1 and that flattered them. That’s an honest opinion on the night, but they will be the sort of team that will benefit from playing games,so the start of the competiton will help them.


Cheers for recap BD! ball seem to have a very big and aggressive forward pack this year which should see them challenging again this year. Has Ethan Parry’s younger brother started with the Matts team yet?

Big Derek

Yes, Cody played on the right, Will be good for the run , didn’t get much opportunity to run the ball . Issue will be for the forwards to control the ruck , backs weren’t given much space.

Big Derek

Think I probably was over critical of Cody Parry, apparently he has only had 3 weeks training with the boys and 2 of those were in rehab. He was played specifically to give him a run and out of position. Fieldsy doesn’t bring players into the club who underperform , so confident he will more than improve.

Hard to look good in agame like that I think, so my report was more in disappointment of team display, and they were playing their only trial. Particularly wanted the Eels to win so I doubt my view was clouded.

paul taylor

Hey Sixties , Mate agree with you again. We dropped ball last night, we missed tackles, we lost opportunities. But we did it on the training field, no points lost, no media beat up, no outside noise. I am hoping for the mental toughness to really go up a level this year. IMO, the teams across the NRL are all reasonably close but what is setting the great teams from the bottom teams is the ability to handle ADVERSITY and PRESSURE. You know a dropped ball could lead to potentially 1-18 tackles depending on your opposition. You drop that ball… Read more »

paul taylor

Sorry mate – too much cold chisel last night and few beers gone to my head, LOL




Any coach who leaves training totally happy is bound to be totally disappointed in the very near future .


60s…If Mahoney is unavailable who would be the back up hooker.
I am sure W.Smith, Stone or Salmon can play 15mins a game for a spell to young Rheed but if he was out for 3 weeks I feel we need a specialist back up. Who is your tip?


I didn’t realise he was a hooker or can play there.


Played there quiet a bit 2 years ago for Wenty. Fast out of dummy half, good pass and outstanding defence in the middle from what I seen in that season. I know he played in the halves all year in cup last year but got the sense he was more suited to the hooking roll

Blake Smyth

Have you seen him play hooker sixties. Not really a player who is equiped with the hooker role and skill to play there full time. As a relief #14 he would do a job. I think you under estimate the integeral role a hooker plays on the field and this is not something that is learnt playing hooker at training occasionally Rhys is a #7 and a possible back up for the utility spot. To say he is a #9 and could be full time, i personally think is out of reach, he doesn’t have the nessaccary skill to play… Read more »


Have you seen him play hooker, from what I’ve seen he’s actually better there and has an awesome off the deck pass. Defensively I would argue he is much stronger than reed


Hi Sixties, it has been a v long weekend so i did not have a chance to really respond till now. Unfortunately i go back to work this week….. The competition for spots for me is the key, and this can only drive the players in the fringe groups as well as those new to the squad. I am really happy the club has added Stefano Utoik to the top 30, and hope we can see him in the top 17 at some point, as i think we need to continually add some youngsters (as long as they deserve) to… Read more »

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