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:
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.
* 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.
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.
* 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
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.