The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training – January 6, 2021: Here Comes Some Boom

Nobody gets out of the 1.2km fitness test!

Not even if you’re one of the best-conditioned athletes in the club, your name is Dylan Brown and you were exempted from Monday’s session.

With his team mates calling out “Byron” the Eels five-eighth set a cracking pace in his solo timed run.

I did wonder whether it was harder for our Kiwi playmaker to judge his run with nobody pushing up around him. It’s likely that he simply maintained three-quarter pace throughout – quite an effort over that distance.

After warm ups, the session kicked off with running mechanics. It was interesting hearing the encouragement for the players to lead off on their non-dominant leg. I’d imagine that being able to accelerate off either leg would give any player an early advantage.

The conditioning work today was designed to add fatigue to the football that followed. The breaks between opposed simulations were filled with more running. There was very little time for rest.

The Reds go on the attack.

Joey Lussick made an impression as he started to push up into the leading runners alongside the likes of Will Smith, Jake Arthur, Bryce Cartwright and Isaiah Papali’i. But the fitness stuff was really just the entree for today’s main course – contact opposed footy. Here comes the boom!

The Reds took on the Blues but there was no indicator from the two line ups as to who holds the early lead in some of the battles for a spot in the top team. The “recognised talent” was split between both teams, with even Brown and Moses squaring off against each other – Jake Arthur was paired withBrown whilst Will Smith took his place alongside Mitch Moses.

There were a few moments that the coaches weren’t happy about, but overall it was a very solid workout.

Of note were some of the collisions. Whilst not quite delivered with NRL match day venom, surely ice packs were being requested after the session was over.

Inevitably, any big hits on the training paddock seem to involve Marata Niukore. I’m not sure whether this bloke has anything less than ten on his dial. From the moment he first joined the Eels, he’s never pulled his hits and carries at training. It was the same today.

Another highlight was Matto being smashed by one of the pathways players. The defensive jam on an attacking shift was timed to perfection. It was terrific to see such confidence.

Reed Mahoney’s work out of dummy half earned a big tick. His short plays were bringing the big forwards onto the ball with good momentum.

Shaun Lane carried the ball powerfully, and there were a few times I could hear him demanding his halves to bring him into the play. There’s been a bit of “eye of the Tiger” about his work at training. Perhaps it’s that competition from the likes of Cartwright and Hipgrave.

The squad warming up today.

The other forward that must be mentioned is Isaiah Papali’i. Those of us watching him train are in a state of disbelief that the Warriors didn’t fight to retain his services. The big bloke is not too far behind Cartwright in the fitness stakes, he runs intelligent lines, can ball play and provide a link role in the team, and he doesn’t shirk the dirty carries.

The Kiwi’s loss is Parra’s gain!

Though there were a couple of attacking rushes that claimed tries, the only legitimate four-pointer was awarded to Haze Dunster. Seriously smart ball play from Will Smith put his runner into a half gap and about three sets of hands later Dunster was crossing untouched in the right corner.

Today’s training concluded with about 15 – 20 minutes of defensive drills. The players alternated between sets of bump pad collisions and sets of defensive line movements – up and back ten metres, down and up off the ground, with the reminders about line speed ringing in their ears.

One of my biggest takes from the morning was the talk. Fullbacks, halves, wingers, edges – the communication was outstanding. Whenever the players can be heard so clearly and consistently, I know it’s been a good session.

We can look forward to the opposed work going to the next level over the coming weeks.

Eels forever!


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Colin Hussey

Nice report sixties, and it boosts my confidence that we have a good solid team, and that its not just a 17, or 19 man squad either. If those who are training and from the CC team, that also augers well for the future of the eels and the players themselves. Looking forward to these updates each day or so, not as good as being there but well worth the read and how it brings the season closer to the start. Has the eels decided on just one trial game against the Riff or are they also going to play… Read more »

Parra Pete

Is Jordan Rankin showing ANYTHING that suggest he could be a handy acquisition. Hardly heard a ‘peep’ about him since he was signed mid 2020..Is he an astute signing?


Good report as usual 60s. Does Waqa Blake look any better in defence or has that training aspect yet to come to the fore?


Thanks Sixties, your reports are making the off season bearable.

Can’t wait for the origin boys to come back and step things up


Thanks mate, sounds like a good session to watch.I think we’ve been strengthened in terms of forward and hooker depth.
I imagine the next 2-3 weeks will show the make up of some positions and combinations leading up to trials.
I personally think the added hookers will make things much better, and centre will sort itself no doubt.


On the Warriors letting Papalii go,they have bought 3 props and a backrower in Bayley Sironen.Of those AFBlake is a huge signing but Murdoch Massilla and Evans can both be passengers,good at their best but inconsistent. I guess they have to try something. They have lost Blair who has been okay since joining them.Sironen played well last year but Imo Papalii offers more especially with the game getting faster,it’s almost as if Warriors are building a pack for the 2016 version of the game.Eels on the other hand have built a team who on paper at least should be big… Read more »


Going off your comments re .Papallii earlier, do you think he maybe suited to come on at lock when Brown gets a rest?


OK, If middle is Papali’i’s best go, where does that put Hippo? as an edge terrorist, or another middle Brown kamikasi? Because we already have Marata and now you nom Papa as middles plus potentially either Hollis or Hughes, and my guess is Hollis because of his confidence and Klemmer-like agro.

John Eel

Good to see you getting on board with Roache. I am thinking he may get elevated to the 30 sooner than expected.


Bench depth/rotation was often questioned last season. Maybe we can tick another weakness fixed. The big one is still defending wide shifts.


Agree re defending wide shifts and on both sides of the field.
My opinion remains that the coaching needs to improve. I’m not a fan who calls for BA’s head, or his support staff, but Bennett made a remark about his coaching and in both finals last season, the eels were simply out coached. I believe that we have the cattle, it’s getting them consistently playing their best and better coaching in general. I’m wondering whether there are any noticeable changes to the way BA and cod are coaching so far this off season.


I would suggest Murphy and Kidwell are part of the problem both have been there a number of years.
I believe you should have a assistant coach that is a head coach in waiting neither of those two are that.

There has been talk about BA being to insecure to have a staff member that is a threat to his job maybe its true maybe its not but if/when we bow out dissapointly at the end of the season the noise for change will start again.

Colin Hussey

Sixties, I would say that for the majority of supporters, they are behind the head coach and the rest of coaching staff, however from their own viewing of the team, there is often conjecture when certain areas of the teams game play shows consistent weaknesses by breakdowns at critical times. Looking back over last season, it was certainly one that irked a lot of supporters especially when we got to the pointy end and failed there, much of which was a result of failed defence in certain areas, injuries to key players, also the loss of MJ who was pretty… Read more »

Colin Hussey

Sixties, no worries and I was reply more to Offside than anyone or thing. From where I sit given our circumstances of last year and what the team would have learnt now, and a completely new season, which as you say regarding the lower grades, it points to a better season ahead.


How does Solo­moni Naiduki look? Have heard good things about him from a mate involved in Fiji rugby.


Great. I’m keen to hear about Penisini


Great training report mate. Interesting to hear that Jacob Arthur has jumped over Jordan Rankin to be 4th half picked in 30 man squad.
Shaun Lane screaming for more attention from his halves is very encouraging and I tend to agree with you regarding the depth pressure from Carty and Hippo, although I also think Papa’lii is a potential edge runner and ball player not just a middle. Especially considering the angles that you say he’s running?


Good read sixties, always read but rarely comment. How is Opacic going, does he look like filling the centre position. I liked him when he first played for Bronco’s but he seemed to go off the boil when he went to the cowgirls and when we signed him it didn’t give me much confidence as he couldn’t force his way into their side which I considered a very weak back line. Good to hear good report for Papali’i as Iiked him when at the warriors. Our bench seems to be stronger and expect us to go better this year. How… Read more »


thanks sixties much appreciated

John Eel

Would Semi be an option to fill the elusive Centre position? He is currently playing Centre in RU.

Not exactly the same I know.

John Eel

Given a move from Wing to Centres plus his undoubted skill, you could make an argument for him to become one of the highest paid players at the club.

His transition to Centre has not been a recent thing he has been playing there for some time.

Surely it would not be that hard to lure him from Bristol to Parramatta. Parramatta much closer to Fiji

John Eel

No but we can contemplate

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