For the most part, the current pre-season reports have not shone too much of the spotlight on a vital member of the Eels spine – Reed Mahoney. Perhaps you’re wondering whether I’ve deliberately had him flying under the radar, or maybe you’ve had the impression that he simply hasn’t done enough to feature in my reports?
It’s time to put such thoughts to rest.
I have little doubt that Reed Mahoney is on track to consolidate and build upon his reputation as a Maroons Origin contender.
And there’s a reason for that – just as there’s a reason for his ascension to the Eels top grade at such a young age in one of rugby league’s most demanding positions.
Coming into the 2018 pre-season, Reed Mahoney was on a train and trial agreement. He’d been a last minute addition to the preseason squad, but he was ready.
In 2017, he’d impressed in the Eels NYC side which reached the grand final, and he was expected to go around in the 20s team again the following year. This elevation to an NRL pre-season was his big chance which he took with both hands.
When other players finished their “extras”, Reed would still be on the field, working with a team mate, a coach or just on his own. He wanted to take his game to an NRL level and it would only come from hard work.
History now records that Reed made every post a winner over that summer, earning himself a development contract, which lead to a 2018 first grade debut, and then a deserved upgrade to a top 30 spot.
Fast forward to the 2020 preseason and for the now established Eels rake, nothing has changed.
Just as it was back in 2018, “Cash” is still the last to leave the training field after an Eels session. The precision passes or deft kicks into the corner aren’t by fluke. They happen because of his dedication to be the best he can be.
And so it was today. Long after the main group had left the field. Long after other dedicated professionals such as Moses and Gutherson had left the paddock. There was Mahoney, executing kick after kick, admonishing himself for anything that was a few metres off target.
Take note any aspiring young players. When the talented Eels number 9 finally takes that step into the Origin arena, his success will be the result of doing the hard yards. And moments like this – alone on a football field – is what can separate the good players from the stars.
Of course, before Reed hit those extras today, there was a full Eels training session. It was a mix of conditioning, four tackle touch, defence and opposed contact work.
The main highlights from today’s opposed footy included:
* An early line break by Will Smith that should have resulted in a try to the Gold team. But the Blues scrambled well and Smith could not link with his supports.
* An attacking kick from the Blues which saw Fergo execute a tap back for Taka to cross the stripe
* The right side combination clicking into gear for Matto to cross just wide of the posts.
* A particularly powerful charge from Stefano that left a couple of defenders sprawled in his wake
* There was interchanging of the middle forwards between the Gold and the Blue teams. This included young guns Oregon and Stefano and continued the opportunity given for a number of forwards to press their claims for a first grade berth, and to build combinations.
The standout moment from today’s session was undoubtedly the try to Dylan Brown.
From a scrum on the right, on their own 40 metre line, the Blues shifted the ball quickly to the left. A superb pass from Brown opened up space for George Jennings on the wing to sprint down the sideline. When confronted by Will Smith in cover, George was able to link with Dylan Brown who’d trailed through in support on the inside. Brown then scampered 20 metres untouched to score.
Based on 2019’s exposed form, and the preseason thus far, the Eels are impressing with the attacking threat posed on both the left and right sides of the field. Moses and Brown are equally confident in creating plays on their own or linking up to play more expansive footy. We saw examples of each today.
By the time that the extras were completed, this morning’s session had lasted for the best part of two hours. It followed on from a briefer session on Tuesday that was equal parts conditioning and light contact opposed.
Here we go people!
The first of the Canterbury Cup trials will be held on Thursday, 6th February at Ringrose Park, kicking off at 7pm. It will be the Eels taking on Blacktown – the Sea Eagles feeder team.
* Edit Feb 3 – The trial has been moved forward to 6pm as the RM Cup trial has been cancelled.
I’m expecting to see a swag of former Eels running around for Blacktown, so it could be an interesting first hit out for 2020.
I have it on good authority that the Eels boys are champing at the bit to get stuck into some footy action.
For those who arrive early, there’ll be an RM Cup trial between Wenty and Blacktown kicking off at 5:30pm.
Images courtesy of Eels media