The Cumberland Throw

Sixties Mind-Trip: Mixed Vibrations

What a trip this 2020 season has been.

Will it, won’t it? Pledging the moolah. You can’t go, you can apply to go. The euphoria of so many victories, the downer of a finals exit. It was far from primo, but rarely dull.

With the Eels season now over, I’ve got the mind Kombi packed for my version of an off-season Byron escape.

But to create space in my mental backpack, there’s stuff I need to lay on you.

It’s another opportunity for you to decide whether I’m right on or trippin’.

Not Cool, Brad

I regard BA as a righteous dude. He tells it like it is man.

But when he was rappin with the journos after Saturday’s final there was a word that he used that was definitely not cool.

“Capitulation”

Brad Arthur

That word applies to a surrender. To capitulate means to give up. To stop resisting.

There’s no argument that the last quarter of the game was played without composure, and errors blew the score out. And apart from the awful officiating blunder of not sending Cook to the sin bin, we were masters of our own failure.

I was disappointed, even angered, by our errors and the performances of a couple of individual players.

But given the circumstances of the week, and the body blow delivered on the day, there was plenty of merit in an effort against the odds.

It was not a capitulation Brad.

 

Power To The People

Though we had to share the stands with Bunnies’ fans, it was a complete gas to have a genuine crowd atmosphere on Saturday night.

In getting the action back on to the field despite the COVID-19 threat, the NRL and the clubs have done spectacularly well. However, with attendances capped at 25% capacity, a trip to the footy hasn’t quite been the same.

Just under 15,000 fans filed into Bankwest Stadium on Friday night, and the vast majority joined me in exercising the lungs. Anyone listening to the most recent Tip Sheet podcast would have heard the battle scars evident in my voice.

And that’s exactly the way it should be!

 

Hazed But Not Confused

What a groove to see Haze Dunster make his debut in top grade threads!

The Cumberland Throw has been watching this Kiwi lad since his Harold Matt’s days. It’s a buzz to follow a player’s progress through the grades like that.

Though he didn’t leave the field as part of the winning team, he was still a winner.

Played strong, Dunster good!

 

Jennings Shock A Huge Drag

In their worst nightmares, Eels supporters could not have imagined the game day news about Michael Jennings.

Jenko

After testing positive to banned substances Ligandrol and Ibutamoren, and being immediately stood down, Jenko has since gone public in declaring his innocence.

A long wait is ahead for the results of the B sample to become known – typically two to three months. It’s normally a forlorn hope for that second sample to clear an athlete, which doesn’t auger well for Jennings or an Eels team at risk of being short of a quality centre.

However, without raising too many hopes, B samples have proven to be the saviour for a handful of stars over the years.

In a high profile rugby case, All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu was cleared in early 2017 after testing positive in late 2016.

Should Jenko be innocent, his suspension will have been a high price to pay for both him and the club.

 

The Numbers Are Doing My Head In

There was some heavy news on the big screens at Bankwest Stadium when a tribute was played to eleven departing Eels players. I’ll be thanking those players in a dedicated post coming soon on TCT.

Most of us weren’t aware of the scale of the roster movements in what can only be described as a clean out. A couple of those announced probably came as a complete surprise.

Taka in his corn row days

Peni Terepo, David Gower, Kane Evans, Jai Field, Stefano Utiokamanu, Andrew Davey, Rhys Davies, Jaeman Salmon, Brad Takairangi, Watson Heleta and Kyle Schneider were all listed. That’s 11 of the 32 players who were part of the “bubble” at different stages of this season.

That leaves 21 players under contract, with strong rumours that the departures have not finished. Throw in the uncertainty surrounding the immediate future of Michael Jennings, and there’s a huge task ahead for the Eels recruitment department. If Jenko is lost, and more players depart, the roster starts to approach 50% of requirement.

There is also the challenge of signing an entire squad of second tier players for the 2021 Eels Canterbury Cup team.

On the plus side, a very large group of young players will be doing the NRL preseason. I’d liken it to the influx of pathways players such as Brown, Kaufusi, Utoikamanu, Dunster, Parry and Schneider who all joined Eels preseason training after the 2018 season.

The Eels need to get the senior recruitment right, and make no mistake, that is absolutely critical. First grade players need to be signed. But if we nail that external recruitment, exciting times await.


Bad Vibes From NRL’s MC

Ain’t no big thing, more of a personal hang up that I have during finals series matches.

Those at Bankwest Stadium know where I’m coming from with this.

Here’s an example of how Saturday night’s MC duties went down:

“At fullback for the Eels, Clinton Gutherrrson.

AT NUMBER ONE FOR THE RABBITOHS, COREEEEEY ALLENNNNNNN!!!!!“

And so it continued.

No big deal, but could an NRL appointed MC have something approaching equal enthusiasm for what was an Eels home final? Maybe?

It’s a matter of good vibrations.

 

Media Flakes Or A Bigger Bummer?

Recent media commentary from Danny Weidler and Michael Chammas have paraphrased Eels “insiders” raising concerns from within the club about Arthur’s methods. Weidler also suggested that his Eels contact had confided off the record that Gould’s criticisms throughout the season were regarded by the club as correct.

Through the media, and fuelled further via some supporter forums, assistant coaches have been proposed, with Chammas even raising the prospect of the Eels looking to replace Arthur before his latest extension even begins.

There’s two schools of thought.

The preferred thought is that the journalists are looking to make news about the Eels where none exists. The contrasting reports seem to back this thought up. In one report Arthur is apparently too lenient on the players, in the next he’s too old school, forcing the players to sweat out extra laps rather than adopting mindfulness principles.

The alternative thought is of someone in the club talking out of school to the media.

This surely cannot be true, especially as the club looks certain to enter an era of being regular finalists.

Leaking any unsubstantiated or unsanctioned club “thoughts” would be nothing short of treachery. Destabilising talk has no place in the Parramatta Eels. It could take the club back to darker times.

The Parramatta Eels have made great strides as a professional organisation. Very little leaks out of the club, which is the way that it should be.

However, if there’s someone whose actions threaten to take the Eels back to an environment of mistrust, they need to be outed.

Stability and professionalism have been the cornerstones of the club’s climb to a brighter future. Should I find out that there are Eels people destabilising our football department via the media, I will speak to the club to name names.

 

Digging The Ken Thornett Medal Winners

There were no minds blown by the winners list from the Eels annual Ken Thornett Medal night.

Gutho – a deserved winner

Clint Gutherson took home both the prestigious Ken Thornett Medal and the Blue and Gold Army Player of the Year. Junior Paulo was awarded the Jack Gibson NRL Coaches’s award, Reed Mahoney took home the Ray Price NRL Community Award whilst Andrew Davey clinched the Eric Grothe NRL Rookie of the Year Award.

Hard working staffer, Don Musson was awarded the Michael Cronin Club Person of the year in recognition of his diligence and commitment during this difficult year.

The Ken Thornett Medal is one of my fave nights of the year. The Cumberland Throw is normally represented by multiple contributors and a great night is had by all. Unfortunately, supporters were not able to attend this years event.

So, on behalf of everyone at TCT, I’d like to extend belated congratulations to all of the recipients.

Season done

Time to mellow out.

Eels forever!

 

Sixties

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Milo

Evening Sixties, I like it mate; strong thoughts on all accounts. The media one is interesting, and I totally agree, if anyone inside the club is attempting to destabilise then yes, they need to be named and shames. In regards to retention, the amount of changes to me seems a lot BUT I am an outsider and hope we have something of quality coming into the squad, and as you mentioned key nrl experience is a must. Thank you again for the reports, and to the team. It has already been a draining week, mentally, and i only hope we… Read more »

Milo

Hopefully its during work time….need some RFF. 🙂

Colin Hussey

Sixties, I generally agree with what you have said in the post, the media are like vultures at the best of times and have excelled themselves with the eels,I suspect most are rubbing their hands together with glee. Like you I was astounded in the number of players let go, yet is it surprising really, out of the 11, going some have contracts elsewhere & Gowie stays in a club role which is good for the club and for him personally. The word capitulation though is maybe deemed harsh but is it justified and I would say most likely owing… Read more »

Colin Hussey

sixties, apologies for no earlier responding as seemed I had not subscribed to the discussion. What you say in reply is spot on, especially regarding the off side issue by the penalised side when a penalty goal is being attempted, the on field ref should ensure that that team stays on side at all points of the process, in fact for me & while this is a repeat of my feelings I have said before, is that I am jack of the game as it is now, and its only my support of the eels that keeps me in the… Read more »

Shelley

I did not think they capitulated, I thought they panicked. Possibly the head noise from all the constant media exposure got to much. BA and the other staff need to work out who panicked and who gave up. If people gave up they need to be worked out of the team. I think BA’s bench was really strange and it hurt us, I do hope he reflects on that. On the possible leaking. If any and I do mean even the tiniest bit of what has been reported has come from inside the club the person responsible must be shown… Read more »

June

Great post Sixties, but I’m with you Shelley , surely we wouldn’t employ a coach who has flaunted the rules so much. It’s bad enough being devastated by the Jennings positive test.

Brett Allen

Yet you haven’t shown the same level of outrage when the club hired Trent Elkin.
Just sayin …

Colin Hussey

Difference is that Elkin was cleared of all charges by the NRL and the doping commission, this is his first appointment in the NRL in any role since the original stand down. A worthwhile read is herehttps://www.smh.com.au/sport/nrl/trent-elkin-this-is-my-story-you-be-the-judge. As for Flannagan, I have mixed feelings about and with him, there does come a time when someone who is convicted of of a crime as such, & in this case illegalities with drugs and against the NRL code of conduct should be able to start a new life and job. In the case of Flannagan and the eels, any decision on it… Read more »

Brett Allen

Colin, he served a suspension. He wasn’t cleared of anything. He was involved up to his eyeballs same as Flanno.

Anonymous

I stand corrected, but nevertheless it was a risky PR decision to hire him given his involvement with the Sharks.
The point I was making is that everyone deserves another chance, and I don’t see why Flanno is any different.
If the club did hire him there would be near universal approval for the club to do so.
The bottom line is he’s a proven winner, something we are in short supply of at the Eels.

Brett Allen

The Roosters leaked they were unhappy with Kyle Flanagan before they officially released the fact that they weren’t going to extend him beyond 2021.

Clubs always leak things to either gauge fan reaction or as an unofficial & deniable if necessary form of PR.

I have no doubt that this has been leaked by the club as a way to acknowledge to the fans & members that we are aware of BA’s coaching shortcomings, and that we are working to correct them, but also to grease the skids ahead of time should they decide to sack BA.

PR 101.

DDay

Some interesting thought bubbles after a difficult week Sixties. IMO opinion, if BA is calling it a capitulation, then it is. BA is on the inside, he knows what has been said, what motivators have been tried and what tactics were in for the 2nd half. And BA is renown for being a players manager so the comment carries more weight. The off-season focus after the 2019 exit was to reduce the gap between the good and bad performances. 2020 has been hugely successful in that regard. It would seem the off-season focus for 2020 will be mind games. I… Read more »

Achilles' Eel

Very good post.

Rowdy

Yep, great post BD.

Longfin Eel

It’s an interesting scenario where 1/3 of the roster is replaced. Not sure where the replacements will be coming from, and if they will really be an upgrade. I’d like to see many of the spots taken by rookies, and I think over the past few seasons the club has shown that rookies can be called up to fill in for a few games and do well. What’s more important however is that we have the players outside the top 17 who can put pressure on underperforming stars. That’s what we were missing this year and could go some way… Read more »

Brett Allen

If you note though that almost all of them aren’t best 17, with the exception of Kane Evans and maybe Andrew Davey, they’re depth players and will be replaced like for like. Your depth players are invariably on 1-2 yr deals and get turned over fairly regularly to freshen up the roster.

Nothing to really see here.

Longfin Eel

Agreed they are depth players, but when you look at the market, there is not a lot out there. Sure the club has plans, but it will be interesting to see what they do. Do they sign replacement older players, or is this a chance to inject a bit more youth in the team?

Anonymous

It will be a combination of youth & experience. The Broncos are a lesson in overloading on youth. You need youth to develop for the long term, but you also need reliable veteran backups who can come in and do a short term job in the event of a short term injury or suspension.

Brett Allen

I disagree, the fact that we didn’t even get a look in at Jack Hetherington, despite the fact it was well known that Kane Evans was leaving, is evidence that our best 17 is more or less settled for the forseeable future. Are you really expecting to see any recruits this summer that are coming here and expecting to walk straight into our 17 ? John Asiata, if the rumours are true. We’ve announced Tom Opacic, but only on a one year deal. I haven’t heard us connected to any other significant free agents, unless you know something I don’t… Read more »

BDon

Breezy read sixties, tks. With 11 going and 4 in Origin, the pre-season ranks are thin, but I’m thinking over the next month or so we”ll see half a doz or so signings with the MJennings situation being critical now. There will probably have to be a couple of high end recruitments in there, plus a few Storm-style finds, recruit for strong basics. My guess also is that the club will have a clear strategy for 2021 improvement, it just doesn’t make sense not to. I don’t think this Board/Management will take a path of hope and pray, they have… Read more »

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