The Cumberland Throw

The Tip Sheet – Mark O’Neill (General Manager of Football)

The Tip Sheet is also available on Spotify and iTunes!

(Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images)

Sixties and Forty20 smash the monotony of the off-season this week with a massive sit-down interview with Parramatta Eels’ General Manager of Football Mark O’Neill. Recorded from the heart of the Eels’ growing home at Kellyville, the boys talk turkey with O’Neill for a full hour.

Mark O’Neill walks TCT through his long journey to eventually arrive at the Eels, explaining exactly what his role encompasses and how the surprising magnitude of the club’s reach has reshaped his approach at times.

The 2020 season is then put up on the carving block as the trio discuss Parramatta’s recent success – as well as their stumbles in the finals – and address the recent media-talk about internal dissatisfaction at the club regarding their exit from the postseason.

Roster talk is the focus of the conversation in the home stretch as everything from the status of Michael Jennings, the recent bolstering of the Top 30 with external talent and the developments of Haze Dunster and Sam Hughes get a run.

Finally the show wraps up with O’Neill explaining the recent changes to Parramatta’s junior systems and just exactly what that entails for junior scouting and development moving forwards.

For those who appreciate a podcast menu, you can use the following time breakdown to guide your listening pleasure:

4:20 – GM Role

8:10 – Mark’s path to the Eels & the challenges & attractions

19:30 – Reflecting on 2020

30:10 – Michael Jennings process & that day

36:50 – New recruits

41:30 – External & local player development

47:20 – Lower grades and Parra Pathways

57:30 – Preseason dates

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Gazzamatta

Excellent! Thank you.
Ryan Carr received a few mentions. He was obviously targeted. Will he remain our CC Coach in 2021.
Also, Id be interested to hear how The COE is progressing and the timing for completion.
Cheers and thanks.
Gaz

sixties

Ryan Carr certainly impressed during 2020 in his role with the squad. There were early signs that the CC were tracking for a big year. He will be CC coach next season. COE – if you get the chance you should check out the complex – it’s huge. There will be more work on the fields this off season and next stage is probably creating the match field for jun reps, lower grades, potential WNRL. This will see a stand and player facilities built. Not sure on any build dates there. Final stage is that main building, but the timing… Read more »

Gazzamatta

Cheers. Thanks. Yes I’ll have to make the drive to check it out.
Looking forward to reading pre season reports from Nov 30. Season 2021 can’t come quick enough.
Maybe an interview with Ryan Carr would be interesting?
Loved the Bernie chats. MON appears knowledgeable and seems to be enjoying his role. Fingers crossed he is with us long term.

sixties

Cheers mate. We shall keep the podcast content heading your way!

sixties

Even people involved with Parra are surprised by the scale and reach of the club. This was a big take from the chat for me. Geographically and numerically the club is huge, but the breadth of support is also staggering.

Anonymous

anonymous

Trouser Eel

It’s fantastic that we’re getting access to this level of the club’s staff. The rumours about Mark’s relationship with BA don’t align with some of the comments made in your interview.
Nice work guys.

sixties

Thanks mate. Appreciated being able to share this with the listeners.

Gustarny

This is great stuff to hear.Shows how focused our great club is to take us to the next level so we can continue on the path to be a benchmark club like the Storm.Interviews like this will only help our supporters become more engaged with our club and acknowledge the hard work behind the scenes that is being done .Thank-you to Mark O’Neil and TCT this is greatly appreciated.

sixties

Our pleasure mate. Happy to be able to share with fellow supporters. Thanks for your feedback.

Anonymous

Firstly, to the Cumberland throw team thank you as always for the awesome content.
And to Mark O’Neill or anybody from the Parramatta Eels who may read this. This kind of content is invaluable to the many out of town fans like myself who live in the Wollongong area and the thousands of other out of towners all over Australia and Internationally that follow the mighty Eels. I think it’s a great way too engage with fans to help us reach our stated 40,000 membership goal and become the team with the most members. Cheers

sixties

Thanks mate. You’re a great example of what Mark said about the scope of the Eels support and reach. Being that distance away and supporting the club means a greater challenge to stay engaged. I appreciate your kind words about what we do to help you with our content.

Jpe Briffa

Hi fellas that was so interesting I listened twice TCT must be the best fan site anywhere in the world i just cannot get enough , thanks again

sixties

Love your passion mate. Too kind.

Walpie

Nice interview. It is good to see that Mark O’neill is such an intelligent guy. The doubters should be quite reassured!

sixties

Thanks mate. It’s important for our Eels staff to be able to share not only what they do, and what the club is doing, but also a little bit about themselves.

Michael Formosa

Outstanding interview, very in-depth about a range of topics: his role, the club’s junior development, the direction the club is heading. Really great work guys!

sixties

Thanks Mike. Glad you enjoyed it and appreciate you taking the time for this feedback

Higgsy

Really enjoyable enlightening interview, O’Neill came across as intelligent and organized,good to see tct is a trusted format for the club to allow this interview to take place, actually I would think it’s a precedent for any supporters website within the nrl, a trust earnt and deserved ,kudos to the parramatta administration for recognizing a genuine supportive body , more interviews please!

sixties

Thanks Higgsy. Appreciate the support and just quietly, we’ll be happy to keep that content coming.

Adam

Outstanding work everyone and big thank you to Mark O’Neill for both his time in doing this interview as well as his forthrightness in discussing the club, a sensitive topic (MJ) as well as our juniors and pathways. Looking forward to a positive year next year. Im sure the lessons of this year will be addressed and we can move forward to bigger and better things. Thanks everyone.

sixties

Cheers Adam. That MJ issue has a process to follow so it was good to get the facts on that and that the club is ensuring Jenko’s well being too.

Adam

Yes and that is great work by the club overall. Makes you proud to be an Eels supporter.

sixties

It’s important for the club to value people, whether they are a part of the club, or supporters of the club.

Milo

An intriguing interview Forty and 60’s and this is very good of the club and Mark to be available to the TCT crew and crowd, which is a credible site and worthy of such interview. He had some interesting items to discuss and we thank him for this. I also thought the level of questioning was great, and this is wonderful to hear albeit it took me three times to complete the tune in. Thank you and we hope the club can offer more time for staff, and even the coach or assistant. We only hope the club continues to… Read more »

sixties

Cheers Milo. Very happy that the club and Mark were on board with this.

Anonymous

It’s surprising to think the players don’t realise how widespread the following and appreciation is for Parra, a la the comments re: Hindy.

sixties

I think it’s also a reminder for the players about how often they can promote the club and connect with supporters in incidental circumstances. In normal non-Covid seasons they probably see supporters all the time. It’s probably an imposition for some during their down time, but if they have the chance to be club ambassadors to young supporters, that goes a long way towards building future fans.

Shelley

Thank you, what an excellent conversation and as an avid fan it was very pleasing to hear the breath of issues discussed. The conversation around Pathways/ Development/ Recruitment and movement into first grade was very interesting. I want us to be a development club and maintain the drive. But to me there always needs to be a balance. Sometimes kids are not ready physically to come into first grade and bringing them in before they are ready hurts them in the long term . In that case you need to be smart with recruiting externally to fill the short term… Read more »

sixties

Cheers Shelley. It’s very easy for us to see young players as deserving of an NRL spot. And sometimes they are – like Dylan. But even then, he had to deal with a back injury. We have an exciting group of young players joining the preseason, but are they ready for NRL? Maybe not until 2022. We have to be patient as you say, and recruit wisely for who we need now.
Very glad that we could bring this interview to our readers.

Joshua Randal

Well done on amazing interview, guys. It’s a credit to you and the club that we fans can have access like this. Keep up the great work guys.

sixties

Thanks Josh. We’re grateful to Mark and the club for this. Hope to bring you more soon.

Graz

Thanks TCT team. Excellent all-round.
I have always greatly appreciated at being made so welcome as part of the Eels family by the Eels membership team, superbly led by Hayden. They go above and beyond to support us.
These interviews allow us to be kept informed by the very people responsible for our club, and in whom we trust.
TCT team, also superbly led, in this case by Sixties, are an inherent part of our Eels family.
We are truly blessed.

sixties

Thanks so much mate. The Membership team are absolutely next level. Hayden and Rhys are champions, and they think outside the square to solve problems or to ensure problems don’t arise.
I’m pleased that Mark gave us this time. I know our readers have appreciated it.
The great thing about TCT is our readers/followers. Having people who are so invested as supporters and readers is a huge plus for any site.

Rowdy

It’s taken me nearly 3 days to find the time to listen to this episode and I must say it was well worth the wait. Mark O’Neill and I had the good fortune to meet the first day he arrived through the eastern gate at Old Salesyards a week before official preseason with BA to give him his first tour of our then operation. He was quite easy in his manner, approachable and confident without being cocking. BA allowed me a few minutes of banter and introduction which I appreciated. Mark’s gracious manner still comes through with his professional approach… Read more »

sixties

Glad you enjoyed this mate. That was an interesting opportunity you had to meet both BA and Mark at the same time so early in the piece. Thanks for sharing.

Rowdy

Cheers mate. I’d actually met BA a couple of years earlier with a handshake through the fence adjacent to the wrestling sand-pit. It was probably Jan 2016 or there about. I believe you and Parrathruandthru may well have been there in the cul de sac on the north side of the training facility. We had not met prior to that either. I have a recollection that BA came over to engage with the small group of fans gathered there. I remember it vividly because it was the only time I had attended training with my eldest son who was over… Read more »

sixties

Yes mate. I recall that moment because I did speak to both of you that day, and it was one of the very few times that Saleyards was locked.

Anonymous

Cool bro. Lovely to have my senior memory faculties confirmed. 🤨

Rowdy

“Senior citizen’

sixties

👍 👍 👍

Clint

Had to come here and echo the thoughts I shared on social media – this is a ripper of a podcast. Mark O’Neill provides great insight into the role of Football GM at an NRL Club, as well as what to expect over the coming months. This isn’t a must-listen, it’s a need-listen for Eels fans and aspiring Sport Administrators. The Pathways Program at the club is crucial to our evolution into a fully-fledged Development Club, as is the short and long term management of the roster. Naturally the immediate signings are what draw the majority of fans attention, but… Read more »

sixties

Clint, as you know, the pathways have always been a feature on TCT. As Bernie Gurr used to say, we have to always remember that we are a football club, and football is the core of our business. While ever we remember that, we will be in good shape. It’s important to hear that focus reinforced from club executives like Mark.

BDon

Tks sixties and forty. Enjoyed the chat. We are light years ahead of 5 years back. Mark has worked his way into the role without headline grabbing or false steps. You could say not dissimilar to his playing days, where he was a leader as well. He sounds across his brief, good awareness of working to vision and strategy. Looking forward to a strong front office, you know, delivery of the Gibson formula.

sixties

Cheers BDon. I regard this type of communication with supporters as essential. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t need our admin to be high profile, but in a year such as this, there were aspects about our operation which needed clarification ie roster, pathways, performance, scope of the GM role.

Rowdy

I am supportive of what you say Sixties, but I would say that BA, in my observation is as good a student as he is a teacher/coach. In my rarely humble opinion, I would suggest that there is no way that he wouldn’t have realised that as much as he did have a very broad base knowledge of the functions and roles required to be created and managed to make Parra a successful footy club. The fact that he managed all of these functions for 2 years without much assistance was quite remarkable. Then in addition to that he turned… Read more »

sixties

Not only did the appointment of a general manager of football ease some of the load of CEO and coach, it also eased the load on NRL manager Craig Sultana and others who were taking on tasks beyond their roles.

Rowdy

Well said BDon, and although I do agree with your premise that we are “light years ahead of 5 years back”. (I would venture to say. We are were already light years ahead at that time 2016 (notwithstanding the cap dilemma) of the mess that BA inherited when he signed on in 2013 prior to beginning his tenure in 2014. Which speaks volumes of Brad Arthur’s insightful awareness of the planning strategy and structural overhaul needed and implemented from word GO.

sixties

I keep trying to forget such times Rowdy.

Jacq

Great podcast, good to hear the in’s and out’s of the football dept. Importantly it’s good to be reminded that there is a process in play. As fans we are very keen to just get the wins… there’s a lot involved in making that happen!. Really appreciate this one.. thanks TCT… love your work… please keep it up!

sixties

Thanks Jacq. Parramatta is a big club. Geographically, numerically, financially – from junior leagues to NRL, from huge local support to supporters far and wide. There is an insane amount of work involved. I try to never lose sight of the volunteers who help keep pathways going. They are critical.

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