The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training – December 14, 2020: Moses Leads The Way


Mitch Moses take a bow.

On his first official day at Eels preseason training, the Eels half set the leadership standards required of a senior player.

In total, eight more players joined the Eels squad this morning. Moses, Waqa Blake, Shaun Lane, Ryan Matterson, Daniel Alvaro, Will Smith, Jordan Rankin and new recruit Michael Oldfield fronted for their first session of the new season and all looked to be in great shape.

But it was Mitch Moses who stood the tallest. After registering a terrific result in his 1.2km time trial, (Rankin and Smith also looked the goods) the Eels playmaker was soon barking encouragement and reminders to the entire squad.

Given that Clint Gutherson and his Origin mates aren’t due back till some time in January, BA would have been looking to one of his key spine players to drive the group.

MItch Moses

And when Trent Elkin ran them on the first set of their 140 metre runs (probably completed at about 80% pace) Moses was immediately into his role.

“Don’t touch the poles, stay away from the poles!” this was repeated as he exhorted his team mates to avoid short cutting by running up beside the poles marking out the arc in the run.

“Hold your pace, don’t drop off!” the reminders kept coming as the metres mounted and the players battled fatigue.

This is exactly what coaches want to see from those in the leadership group. When the squad assumes accountability for their own standards, pride in performance is driven from within rather than forced upon them.

Who stood out?

Whilst the returning NRL players were deep into their 1.2km run, those who’ve been there for the previous two weeks worked on running mechanics and 60 metre sprints.

I again noted the explosive power of Maika Sivo. This bloke won’t win you any marathons, but when he’s switched on and fresh, the big Fijian literally flies.

Of the forwards, Dave Hollis and Ray Stone impressed. Dave has a surprising turn of pace when he puts the foot down, and Stone looks like a man on a mission this preseason.

The entire squad completed the ensuing 140m and 120m runs at the same time, competing in groups of about 6-8.

After Jake Arthur threw down the gauntlet to Dylan Brown over longer distances last week, the two halves were pitted against each other in the same group today. As suspected, the young Kiwi responded by edging out his challenger by about a metre in every run. These blokes are unlikely to let up in their quest to be the conditioning standard bearers and Gutho will have a battle royal when he returns.

Big Oggy is probably in the best shape of his young career and he and Papali’i aren’t too far behind Cartwright in the battle for fittest big unit.

Here’s an interesting observation. When the players line up for these runs, there’s a bend or arc in the course. Those who position themselves on the outside of the group are running further than those on the inside.

Bryce Cartwright

In literally every run, Bryce Cartwright, Isaiah Papali’i, Haze Dunster and Ryan Matterson position themselves on that outside edge. This additional effort would not go unnoticed by the staff.

The conditioning work concluded after about an hour. The eight players who returned today were not expected to run as many 140m and 120m sets as the rest of the group. Given they had completed the 1.2km time trial and that this was day 1 for them, it comes back to managing their load, especially early in the preseason.

Footy then took over as the session concluded with the right side pitted against the left side in attacking/defensive drills. The squad was divided in three distinct groups for this, as they rotated between who had time with the ball in hand.

The contact was decent, given that it was not meant to be more than grab tackles. Every so often there’d be the sound of a collision that exceeded the parameters of the drill – not that it was a bad thing!

In this drill, the ball found the halves on most plays, so consequently Moses, Brown and Arthur were able to showcase their repertoire of passes. I didn’t read too much into the positions of players as the likely NRL starters were split between the teams.

All up, this drill probably lasted for around 30 minutes before the coaches took groups of players for their extras. It’s fascinating watching this skills coaching in action, especially when it’s unleashed during a game.

There’s plenty of rain forecast so it looks like a potential drenching on the training fields during this last week before the Christmas/New Year break. There’s not much cover available but I’ll do my best to front up and keep the reports coming.

Eels forever!


If you liked this article, you might consider supporting The Cumberland Throw.
Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Matthew Sweeney

Glad you were there sixties to cover the new starters. I like hearing about sivos explosiveness.
But for mine it just wasn’t evident this season. I can’t recall him scoring any long range trys. I wonder if he wouldn’t be more effective at a lighter weight.


It was safe to say Sivo was never the same after Hank Scorpio seeming got his leg – but even prior to that, he seemingly only used that explosive acceleration and strength when he was within 10m of the line.

I genuinely hope to see Sivo get back to his 2019 form which saw him blowing blokes off their feet off short balls off Gutho on a kick return.


I can tell you now.Watch him go next year.he’s in a good head space now.everything that’s was bothering him this year has been cleared.

Colin Hussey

Good stuff sixties, the way the team seems to be blending and competing with each other is something that augers well for next season. I am assuming by the comments & photo’s about Sivo that he must have changed some of his training area’s which hopefully may see him pick his game up next year. I think his efforts to bulk up this last season had good ideas and reasoning behind it but I don’t believe it helped him much, if at all. He did however gain better abilities in defence and his ability to take the high ball, which… Read more »

Michael Formosa

Great read, best one so far! I also love hearing about Sivo hitting top speed because my biggest problem with him is he never seems to sprint in a game. Is Fergo back ? He should be right seeing he didn’t play SOO. Or do the older guys get more rest?


Excellent once again Sixties can’t wait to see what Papali’i,Hipgrave ,Cartwright add to this squad.


Images stay in your mind. An opposition forward suddenly getting folded in half in the Cumberland dust. Ray Higgs getting his nuggety body low and driving. Happened every game more than once, a trademark, worth the ticket alone. Maybe not Cartwright’s go, but the other two have it in their style.


Awesome read thanks Sixties, it’s making this pre season more bareable. Even more keener to welcome our origin players back and see where everyone lines up. Love hearing Mitch step up, hopefully he stays injury free this year

Eel Nut


What are the chances of young Hollis getting a start? I know stephano got a very short gig last year but I would love to see if Hollis can do a Davey and be a regular??? What are your thoughts?

greg okladnikov

great report, enjoy the xmas break !!

Big Derek

Interesting re the contribution of the new recruits, was fortunate to be talking to a player manager on the sideline at Oztag last Friday. Asked about players coming to the Eels when chased by other clubs, he said once they spoke to BA they felt more than comfortable and some of the new players accepted less to sign at Parra than offered elsewhere. Also mentioned they were swayed by improvement seen in Junior, RCG, Nrown and others under BA. Not sure it will mean much to those who constantly hammer the coach, but is food for thought on his standing… Read more »

Colin Hussey

BD, good post and if those with the hammer degrees read what was said by the agent, there would be the same number of Na Sayers and putting it out that its what they would expect from an agent who has those players on his books.

They pretty much only want to make negatives out of positives.


I feel that if we make the top 4 again next year we’ll be one of the destination clubs for off-contract players. 3 top 4 finishes in 5 years and 4 finals series in 5 will be our best record since the mid to late 2000’s. That record along with the trust in BA will see better players want to come to us


Well said Anon, but I would have to say. “they would want to be good to make our starting 17” Maybe a world class left centre would get a walk up start?


That can’t be right Big D? From what I hear and read every year until we make 4 is “BA is just a bush coach”! Then they go into their little holes under the ground until we lose a semi’s we should have won. Personally I’ve found the man to be a real leader and a man’s man to boot!


Can’t wait to see Hipgrave and Papali’i on the field, but mainly Hipgrave. Could add that toughness that N. Brown brings.


Impressed with Hipgrave from when he was at the Titans


Each new season brings its own excitement for the fans. The way I see it, there is greater depth than previous seasons, with more quality players battling to get into the 17. That is what we need. Along with the youngsters like Hollis etc – who Sixties has kept us up to date about through their junior days – this has put the club in the great position to seriously challenge for the premiership. Not just down the track, but right now.


Sixties, great insight into the individuals in the mix. Seeing them encouraging one another in the unity of a team ethos and at the same time drawing deep from the competitive nature of pro sportsmen in the battle. I was well pleased with your holding up of Mitch’s leadership over the group, his fitness and accountability to set the standard. There was another glaring difference which I had noticed in his photo. Mitchell Moses has finally accepted that at this level “Muscle Matters”!. Nearly all the gun halves have numerous and diverse skills. But one thing they all have is… Read more »


Agree, and he will be even better this coming season when he can finally hit and stick with the extra kgs comes extra strength.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x