The Cumberland Throw

Team List Tuesday – Star Eels Who Played Less Than Ten Games

This week I’m naming a “best of” team with a difference. It comprises players who played less than ten top grade games for the Eels.

Apart from not considering any player currently under contract, there are no provisos with this team outside of that “less than ten Eels games” parameter. They can be players who enjoyed great success elsewhere. Indeed, a number of those on this list did just that, and arguably should have been retained by the club.

Players who signed with the Eels at the end of their career and whose best days were behind them by the time they wore the Blue and Gold don’t make the grade for mine – see Origin stars such as Chris Walker and Carl Webb.

It should be noted that I have not considered players from earlier than the 1970s. With all on the list spending such a short time with the club, I restricted my choices to those I could remember clearly, including their time in the lower grades where applicable.

There’s no shortage of individuals eligible for this list, ensuring that valid ammunition can be found by anyone looking to dispute these selections.

So here they are, the memorable, the not so memorable, the could have beens and the should have beens.


Fullback – Matt Adamson, 1 game, 1991

Big Matt Adamson

One half of the Adamson brothers combination, big Matt would start his career in the backs, but then go on to greater success in the forwards out at Penrith. Given that he earned selection for both NSW and Australia during his time at the Riff, it’s head scratching stuff that he was allowed to leave. That said, Parra’s record in the early 90s was somewhat ordinary, so the 195cm Adamson probably made a shrewd career choice to shift clubs. With only one first grade game on his resume after two seasons at the Eels, it was difficult to blame him for leaving.



Wing – Louis Takairangi, 3 games, 1987

Louis striding out!

Not only is Louis the father of current Eel, Brad Takairangi, his three games for the Eels included a very famous match. In round 9 of the 1987 season, the Eels were down 22 nil at half time against a grand final bound Raiders team. In an amazing second half, the Eels scored 30 unanswered points to win 30 to 22. Hall of fame stuff


Centre – John Folau, 8 games, 2015 – 2017

Johnny charges it up!

John could have been anything. The younger brother of Israel is still only 25 years of age, so who knows what lies ahead. Debuting as a 20 year old, the 193cm outside back made an instant impact and the Eels had to fend off rival attempts to poach him. However, Johnny never quite found the key to fitness and consistency at the Eels. He certainly never lacked talent.


Centre – Andrew Hill, 1 game, 1993

A young Andrew Hill

The current CEO of the Bulldogs was a star schoolboy footballer for Fairfield Pats before working his way towards his solitary first grade match for the Eels – and unfortunately it was the infamous 68 nil thrashing by Canberra in 1993. I recall Hill as a very capable, headgear wearing centre, and I rated his performances in the lower grades. He would eventually sign with the Western Reds before returning to the Eels as a football manager.


Wing – Adam Mogg, 9 games, 2002

Adam Mogg – (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

After starting his top grade career with the Eels, Adam Mogg would go on to play 96 NRL games with the Raiders and 84 games with Catalans in the ESL. His career hit its high mark with Origin selection in 2006. Another example of a Brian Smith era player who would go on to greater heights away from the Eels. He would have been good value in the lean years of 2003/2004.




Five-eighth – Blake Green, 6 games, 2007

Blake Green (Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Schoolboy superstar Green was just 18 years of age when he debuted for the Eels way back in 2007. He’s since played for about 72 clubs (actually 8) in a career which continues to this day. If anything, he’s improved with age. Did he improve due to his stint in the English Super League or was it his brief stay at the Storm that made him such a calm and consistent game manager? Regardless, you  can’t knock anyone who’s played just on 250 games of top grade rugby league and might yet go on to the 300 game mark.



Half – Kieran Foran, 9 games, 2016

Foz – what could have been!

There’s little to be said here. The signing that promised so much, yet delivered so little. What a circus unfolded as the
Eels fumbled and bumbled their way through the contract negotiation process, then a pre-season of rehabilitation and “interruptions” soon followed. Still, when he took the field there were enough moments during Foran’s 9 game stint for supporters to believe that his signature would lead us to the promised land. Coach Brad Arthur went the extra mile to assist Foran with his challenges, something later acknowledged by Foran himself. Damn you 2016, you were a bastard of a year for many reasons! 


Prop – Kylie Leuluai, 7 games, 2003

Leuluai in action for Leeds

A bit of a journeyman during his NRL career, Kylie became well known for an outstandingly successful 258 game stint at the Leeds. His highlights include six grand final victories, and two World Challenge and Challenge Cup titles. At only 5 foot 10, Kylie wasn’t a tall prop. However, the stories of his weights records at Parra are no doubt evidence of the power needed for his longevity and success in the engine room.


Dummy half – Anthony Mitchell, 7 games, 2010 – 2011

Anthony Mitchell looks for support

A Queenslander, he first came to prominence for his running game at Parra during the inaugural NYC season in 2008. After debuting in the top grade in 2010, Mitchell would leave the Eels mid season in 2011 to join the Roosters. Returning north in 2012, he finished his brief NRL career at the Cowboys in 2014.


Prop – Richie Fa’aoso, 6 games, 2007 and 2015

Richie Fa’aoso

In an era of behemoths, there’s little doubt that the 180cm, 100kg Fa’aoso was a prop who played well above his weight. In a 186 game career which stretched across seven clubs and two continents, the Tongan international only made six NRL appearances for the Eels with injury cutting short his 2015 season.


Second row – Danny Sullivan, 5 games, 2001

Danny Sullivan (Chris McGrath/ALLSPORT)

Danny Sullivan is undoubtedly one of the biggest “could have been” stories from the last 20 years. After debuting for the Eels as a 105kg teenager in 2001, an ACL injury and subsequent staph infection cut short his career after just 5 games. He tried to return to footy in 2004 with the Warriors, but further knee issues forced his early retirement after just one match for the New Zealand club.


Second row – Phil Adamson, 4 games, 1991 – 1992

Phil Adamson

Like his younger brother, Phil Adamson sought greener pastures at Penrith after only two short seasons with the Eels. And just like Matt, he saw more first grade games and Super League representative honours after leaving Parramatta. A tall prop with a good offload, Adamson went on to play 97 games for Penrith, and seven matches for Manly. That’s not a bad career by anyone’s standards.





Lock – John Wilson, 3 games, 2000

John Wilson

The local junior and back rower was part of a long list of Eels who achieved greater success away from Parra. There was an absolute avalanche of young pathways players who worked their way through the grades during Brian Smith’s era, but the Eels were “forced” to let them accept contracts elsewhere. The versatile Wilson was an ideal bench player as he could cover a variety of positions in the pack and the backline. After playing 62 games with the Tigers, Wilson’s 69 matches for Catalan Dragons in the ESL culminated in selection for France in 2008. Quite a journey for the boy from Wenty!


Reserve – John Mann, 7 games, 1978 – 1979

John Mann carts it up.

John Mann was a mobile back rower who’s career with the Eels began with six top grade appearances during the early part of 1978. Back in the mid 70s through to the early 80s, both the Parramatta Eels and the Parramatta Two Blues were very strong. It was not unusual for players to have a background in both codes, and we saw the likes of the Price brothers all try their hand at rugby league after starting in union. So it was with John Mann. Unfortunately his promising start did not carry into future years and he only played one more top grade game, coming on off the bench in a 1979 clash.





Reserve – Greg Heddles, 3 games, 1978

Heddles crosses for his first try In that finals match.

Heddles was a barnstorming centre/backrower from the country whose big moment came in the 1978 finals series. Playing second row in the minor preliminary semi against Canterbury,  Heddles scored two tries and turned the match in the Eels favour. With two wins and a draw to his name, he never tasted defeat in Parra colours. He returned to the bush and represented Country in 1982.



Reserve – Jason Stewart, 7 games, 1993

Jason “Elvis” Stewart

Rumour has it that “Elvis” Stewart, the Eels Career and Well-being Manager, answers his phone with his player number of 516. The 92kg lock and former Northmead High student was a 1989 Australian Schoolboys Rep who started at the Tigers before making his top grade debut at the Eels in 1993. Playing in the record 68 nil loss to the Raiders, Stewart finished his first grade career on a high the following week when the Eels ran out 22 to 16 winners over the Tigers. His page on Rugby League Project reads “what a player – could’ve and should’ve been the next big thing”.



Reserve – Zeb Taia, 6 games, 2006 – 2007

Zeb Taia puts the bumpers up (Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images)

Another Eel to find success elsewhere, Taia has played a total of 296 top grade games for three NRL clubs, and two ESL clubs, including his current contract with St Helens. The evergreen back rower has also earned representative honours for New Zealand and the Cook Islands. If the ESL returns this year, he’ll be one of those rare breed of players to clock up over 300 top grade games.



Coach – Trent Robinson, 1 game, 2002

A young Trent Robinson

The Roosters master coach only played four games of NRL, and one of those was with the Eels. Starting at prop, Robinson was part of the Eels team which defeated Souths by 54 to nil. He’s certainly proof positive that you don’t need to have been a star first grader to be a successful coach. Four games as a player, then over 200 NRL games as a premiership winning NRL coach!





Media Manager – Paul Kent, 1 game, 1989

Kent firing up

If you blinked, you missed Kent’s only NRL appearance when he took the field in the number 7 jersey against Norths in 1989. Nonetheless, the NRL journo has done what millions of other young footballers have never done – he has a player number for an NRL team which boasts over 70 years of history. Say what you want about him, he had a crack at footy and he (very, very, briefly) made it all the way to the top.

More details on Paul Kent’s game

Further details

At this moment in time, a total of 805 players have taken the field in first grade for the Eels since the club entered the Premiership in 1947. (There is some dispute over that number as a couple of players, including Ernie Wanka, have apparently missed the allocation of a player number.) It’s quite an exclusive group.

No matter how many games any player clocked up for the club, to be part of that number is an honour, as well as a testimony to the hard work and/or talent needed to get there.

Well done fellas.

I’m looking forward checking out the different opinions of our readers.

Eels forever!



My thanks to Parrathruandthru for some difficult to source photos and Photo credits to Getty images, AAP, Daily Telegraph, Eels media, NSWRL and the NRL.

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34 thoughts on “Team List Tuesday – Star Eels Who Played Less Than Ten Games

  1. parrathruandthru

    Blake Green has credited his time in the super league as giving him time to learn to be a professional rugby league player

      1. Jimmy Corbo

        I recall reading an article where Green said he was simply overawed in his early Parra days playing first grade. He said he went from idolising these players and then suddenly playing with and against them and it was all too much for him and he simply didn’t handle the mental aspect of it. I recall him being a star lower grader, touted for big things, haven’t we had a few of those over the last 20 odd years.

  2. Anonymous

    Anthony Mitchell looked to have the game on a string when he played well. One game at Penrith in the U20s, the Eels were behind by a decent amount when from dummy half and seemed everywhere else on the field he dominated to such an extent, he turned the game and the Eels won. A natural dummy half with a turn of speed, another player of that era where possibly better dedication would have turned into a long NRL career.

    Big Derek

  3. Rowdy

    I’d just like to say thank you to the boys at TCT and especially Sixties and 40twenty for the consistent contributions you make to the readers of this site. You fill a hole in our lives through what must be an incredibly difficult task to create inspiring reading with real substance. An honorable mention to Parrathruandthru who’s many years of diligent support of our club and everything Parramatta has resulted in a Parra resource of bottomless depth.
    When there is no footy being played, and zero action to quell the anxiety, there are still fans of the game who are going through withdrawals with no games to watch and the obvious lack of content to comment on or even contemplate. I’m sure your faithful endeavors to fill the void has saved many a wife, the occasional husband and a few children from the indecipherable rantings of Parra fans whose winter weekends were stolen from them by the Wuhan Flu! Please keep up the good work.

  4. Gazzamatta

    Great concept 60’s.
    Im not sure Matt Adamson played fullback but with few choices available in that position Im sure he would have done the job.
    Id also have to find a spot for Alec Tennant. The guy was a sensation at Manly. I recall my excitement when he transferred to The Eels only for his tenure to be cut short by injury.
    Am enjoying the content.

    1. sixties

      Thanks Gaz. Tennant is a nice add. I just didn’t remember him at all, so whilst he qualified, I couldn’t add him in my list. But that’s the beauty of these lists. It draws out other names from people like yourself who do remember them. Do you remember what he did in 1971 – between his career at Manly and joining Parra
      I recall Adamson playing a mix of positions in the lower grades. He played wing in his only first grade match at Parra, before playing wing/fullback in his early years at the Riff.

    2. Higgsy

      Alec had a problem with a finger that had been dislocated to many times so he had it surgically removed and was never the same again as i recall

  5. Milo

    Wow what a team and great discussion points. For me out of the forwards Kylie L, Mitchell and D Sullivan all had tremendous promise. Leulali had a game at Parra i seem to recall where he rattled the opposition. Such a shame he did not kick on; I also thought A Mitchell had a lot of promise and enthusiasm (think a NTH QLD boy?), and a shame he did not stay; his size was slight but he had some pace.
    Danny Sullivan was the one Sixties as you mentioned – he had a superb build in my view an again like so many players who never make first grade, injuries hindered his career which was a true shame. Could he have been a difference in 2001?
    Now P Kent; i thank Sixties for making the point about these players all making the first grade team – as we know you do not make it without having some skill, toughness and ability. P Kent while only playing a game deserves his spot. I know some here are not massive fans of his penmanship but i have been agreeing with a few of his thoughts this year…..and am not sure if its a sign of my age wearying me or something else.
    I also know i am one to criticise players at times but i guess this wonderful post is a reminder how much hard work and toughness these guys have to make first grade and the many players who do not make it.

    1. sixties

      Well said Milo. I reckon the total number of players – 805 – is an indicator of how very few make the top grade. Match that against the total number of lower grade players (Lord knows that!) and those that trialled for grade but couldn’t make that cut, and then those that simply played the game, and you get some concept of the achievement of anyone who gets even a minute of first grade.
      I was recently talking to a bloke I know who’s had a bit to do with young players over the years. He was telling me about the records Kylie set in the gym whilst at Parra. Very powerful player.

      1. BDon

        Yes sixties, there were also a lot of young blokes good enough to play top grade but preferred to take the more social scene of A Grade juniors, not that it was any walk in the park there, far from it. Less travel, less intensity, discipline and limelight. Many would play Presidents Cup as it was a limited season (talking 60/70’s here). Parra had a couple of older officials who always tried to press gang them, knew their ability, memory fades here, I think one may have been Reg Lane. A Sunday afternoon at parks around the district saw a pretty good standard in the juniors, great rivalries, some out and out wars.

        1. sixties Post author

          Cheers BDon. Yes, the difference in talent between those that make it and many who don’t can be very slim. Dedication and attitude plays a huge part. Thanks for sharing.

      2. Milo

        Thanks Sixties, and then there were guys like us who did not even get that far……but played club level and that was it.
        There is a guy who i know from Penrith played up until 20’s and did his knee i think 3 times in a few years, and he was touted by a few as the next big halfback. His knee was shot by age 20…..he was lucky to get some work with Penrith in a form of development role, but so many young players are in the same boat in terms of playing junior reps and whether injury, discipline etc as BDon says that move on. That is life i gather.

  6. parrathruandthru

    While looking at some old stuff the name Steve Halliwell popped into my head. He would be a smokie for a centre spot 2 tries from 3 starts off the bench including the 82 Grand Final. Blitzes Kenty’s effort

  7. Glenn

    Surprised Adam Ritson wasn’t mentioned, or didn’t he play any games for Parra during super league war? The way his career was cut short was truly heart breaking. Is he still with us today?

    1. Milo

      True Glenn, he was full of talent and a big boy. I recall where i was when he suffered that injury against Canberra… was a weekend match and i seem to recall after the send off Parra romped home in a big win. Such a sad time for Adam in terms of football but he has moved on in terms of work.

  8. Offside

    I loved that article thanks.
    Blake Green as a junior had class written all over him i thought him and T Smith sould see us to the promised land.
    Zeb Taia i was spewing we let him go when we did hes forged a solid career since.

    Ive always loved seeing the progression of our juniors but the flip side is seeing them progress elsewhere

    1. sixties

      I’m sure the numbers that moved on during Smiths era exceeded any other era. Perhaps it’s indicative of a system identifying and developing far too many NRL players – far more than its need. If so, it’s a pity that that time never delivered a title.

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