The Cumberland Throw

Bumpers Up – March 14, 2021: Parra Papa And The Season Opener


What a week!

Could we, as Parramatta supporters, expect anything less than the roller coaster of emotions that charged headlong at us in the eventful Round One action against the Broncos?

Social media went into meltdown during the Eels diabolical first half showing, but as we head into Round Two, the only thing that matters was the two points next to the Eels on the ladder.

Of course, the action on the field wasn’t the only Eels news from the past week.

It’s Bumpers Up as I offer my opinion on the last seven days.

The Gloat

It’s my column, so I’m allowed to gloat.

Parra Papa

Throughout the preseason, I’ve been singing the praises of Isaiah Papali’i. He’d been slaying it on the training track and had stamped himself as a player to watch in 2021.

Parra Papa” as I’ve dubbed him, or the “Smiling Assassin” as others have tagged him, duly delivered at a time when the Eels most needed it against the Broncos.

The Kiwi and Samoan international has now played 64 NRL games but is still only 22 years of age.

There’s a big future that still awaits him and he’s started his time at the Eels in rip-roaring fashion.

Late edit: incredibly Papa didn’t receive a single Dally M point.

New Buys Provide Early Validation

Not all Eels supporters were happy with the Eels additions to their 2021 roster. There had been calls for a strike centre signing, and a general belief that Parra were just filling spaces.

It’s early days, but the club’s three debutants in Friday’s clash all contributed to the Eels victory over the Broncos.

After coming off the bench, “Parra Papa”, Isaiah Papali’i, was a major talking point after the match. His outstanding performance pushed that of Reed Mahoney for man of the match honours.

Keegan Hipgrave

Tom Opacic provided exactly what I had predicted throughout the preseason. He’s an experienced centre who reads the game well and remains composed when under pressure.

Keegan Hipgrave responded to criticism of his trial performances with a valuable short interchange stint, adding just on 50 running metres from his five runs and no missed tackles.

It’s a huge test facing everyone this week, but the start from the new fellas was very encouraging.


Junior’s Century

Congratulations to Junior Paulo for achieving 100 NRL games in the Blue and Gold.


Our champion Origin prop is a success story from our pathways, and despite his time in the nation’s capital, he’s only an Eel in our eyes.

Junior always seems to be creating plays that set up line breaks or tries for others. How appropriate that he could cross for a try of his own in this milestone game.

I’ve got a feeling it won’t be his last for the year.



Corporate Confidence

How times have changed!

Parramatta has confirmed the addition of McDonalds Australia and Taubmans Paints to their list of Corporate Partners.

Taubmans announced

Signing on for three years and two years respectively, these companies now complete the Eels jersey assets for the 2021 season. In other words, there is no more available space on the Eels match day jersey.

The confidence in the Eels brand is at an all time high and Andrew Mikhail and his Commercial team and the Eels can feel proud of their achievements in securing such partnerships.

Strong on-field performances, great leadership, first class facilities and a massive supporter base all help to make the Eels a destination club.


Media Speculation

It comes as no surprise that the media would be reporting on outside interest in the contracts of Nathan Brown and Maika Sivo.


With Manly apparently ready to throw a big offer to Brown and French rugby lining up to take another winger from the Eels, supporters start to feel agitated.

However, the managers of both players are simply doing their job of testing the marketplace for their clients. I see such stories as nothing unexpected.

With a tightening of the salary cap after the COVID impacted 2020 season, the club too has to consider the size of its offers, relative to the overall spending on the rest of the squad.

If both parties are keen for new deals to happen, it’s unusual for a player to leave. If both parties have vastly different opinions on contract size, that’s when the process takes longer or a parting of the ways occurs.

Whatever the outcome, the genuine stuff plays out behind closed doors.

Adam Hawse On The Tip Sheet

Adam Hawse

If you haven’t done so already, I recommend that you have a listen to sports media identity Adam Hawse talk to Forty and I about his passion for the Eels and his special project, Eels86 – The Story Of Parramatta’s Last Premiership.

The half hour documentary tells the story of the 1986 campaign through the players themselves. That season is often referred to when describing Parra’s extended period without success, but the inspirations that drove the team are rarely discussed.

Adam provides The Cumberland Throw with the background to the project as well as his take on the bonds that existed within that team.

It’s something special for all Eels supporters.


Roster Considerations

The Eels recently named their 28 man roster, complying with March 1, NRL regulations.

However, as discussed by Forty and I on The Tip Sheet this week, that number includes Michael Jennings, effectively leaving the Eels with 27 players in their top squad. After excluding injuries and the recently upgraded Will Penisini, the 21 players named for Round One was basically all that the coach could call on.

The Eels are not an island. Other clubs are already seeking dispensation to use players outside their top squads, and there were TBA listings in the NSW Cup teams.

For Parra, a decision on the Jennings case can’t come soon enough, and despite the temptation to hold off signing anyone else right now, the club must surely be looking to add to their depth.

Junior Rep Update

Two wins and a draw against the Raiders keeps all of the Eels Junior Rep teams in finals contention with only three rounds remaining.

The SG Ball celebrate in the sheds

The Matts and Ball teams each recorded important wins to remain in the Top 6, whilst the Tarsha Gale followed up last week’s win with a come from behind draw.

The finals series has changed to a top 6 this year, played over three weeks, with the top two teams automatically placed in the grand final qualifiers. This makes these final three rounds incredibly critical on what remains tight ladders.

Don’t forget, for the best insights into Eels Junior Rep results, you can’t go past Joey Grima’s regular segment on The Tip Sheet Podcast.


Massive Live Event

Speaking of The Tip Sheet, our Podcast will be going live in Eels Lane this coming Thursday as part of an epic pre-match afternoon at Parra Leagues.

Eels Lane

Kicking off at 4pm, and going through to 5:30pm, we’ll be joined by the Eels Joey Grima, Mary K from Ladies Who League and the one and only Parra legend, Brett Kenny as we build up to kick off in the Eels big clash with the Storm.

The fun won’t stop there at Eels Lane. The entertainment will continue with Oscar Kami, along with a balloonist and a jumping castle for the kids.

Come and say hello to TCT, listen to our footy talk and join us for a drink and a feed at the “Home of the Eels”, Parra Leagues.


Eels forever!


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McDonalds and Taubmans, quality names, says something about where the club is at. Certainly our bench has been improved, the other big glaring weakness, our poor reaction to wide shifts, looked better to me, despite what people are saying. Many say it’s our right side, but we allowed 2 tries on the left, the try on the right if you watch it had plenty of scramble cover but Waqa lost his feet in a collision which gave Mead a channel to evade the scramble (which was good all night).. The Storm will give us a better read on our wobbles… Read more »

Big roy

Good spot on waqa , if you watch closely its a blocker , bronx player launches into waqa as he offloads and takes waqa out of play deliberately my opinion .


In terms of Brown and Maika’s contract situation if both can get better contracts good luck to them.
I love Brown and what he offers but with cap management clubs can’t afford to bow into sentiment and loyalty so good luck to him.
Sivo from what I’ve read needs to stay 1 more year for residency if I was him I’d sign a 1 year deal and then sign with French rugby the following year.

Big roy

Brown covered easy , oregan marata , papa , hollis and lane to middle where he belongs , watch his game improve there .carty on edge gives us ball player both sides !


I’m not either every player is replaceable


I’d rather spend good money then overpaying players. If Brown choices to leave I would be throwing his money at Finucane. He’s a true champion, won plenty of finals games, could be the player to take us to the next step. Regards to Makia, I would let him go to be honest. He’s defence is horrendous.

Summons and grahams

More concerned about this season than who might leave , 60,s points out 27 in roster i suggest no hughes either thats 26 , boy thats dangerous and this club now puts money before football so ?????? Recruitment dept strategy puzzling or asleep ?


Sixties – the Jennings suspension on the morning of a semi final look more ridiculous as the days pass. MJ ruled out immediately in great haste and yet it’s not official for 4-6 months until the B sample is done. How can the rush to suspend be justified? How can the slow processing be justified?

That’s a broken system with complete power imbalance, wada basically bulldozing it’s way irrespective of guilt. Shayne Jack similarly just straight out crucified.


Sharks had xeri on their books for over a year if memory serves.
Seeing as MJ isn’t getting paid anymore yet taking up a roster space the club should ask him to officially retire and then give him some sort of dodgy payment/Job


Yes,got to say ,you were right in your predictions re.the new recruits. Papa ,awesome,Opacic,solid defence and always found extra metres with his stepping and never shirked the tough carries,and saved a certain try. Hipgrave, well I’ll admit I was underwhelmed with his trial form but he was good.Happy with the attitude to come out in the second half and play well,honestly it was one of those games you just knew if they hold the ball they win.Was happy with everyone except Lane, but thought Sivo ran hard and looked dangerous, if he could develop a step ,look out.This week will… Read more »

Paul Taylor

I think the big difference was Reed darting out from dummy half and creating opportunuties. SIVO looked fitter, leaner and ran better accordingly. Still a terrible reader of defence and trusting his inside defender. Waqa will have kittens approaching this Thursday game and against Storm.

I think we will aim up, first home game and decent crowd and atmosphere . Go forward, play direct and dont let PAPPY get balls on the fly. Corners amd on the ground particularly in possible wet conditions.

John Eel

I could not agree more about this week. The Storm always try to put the game to bed in the first 20 minutes.

If the Eels stay focused as you say with there D and patient in attack then we can get them.

Sounds easy, a lot harder to execute. Need to be error free.


Geez looking forward to Cartwright adding some flair. If we are working on the pre season reports form guide he featured as much as Parra papa in your reports which is mouth watering. I think that little bit more X factor variety can ease pressure on Brown/Moses.


I’m with you.I think Lanes hands are an issue.He has always had trouble with Browns short balls,maybe better suited to prop.If you watch Cartrights highlights he is mostly playing right side second row or wearing the 14.These are panthers highlights only.These are two positions We are lacking atm imo.So will be interesting to see where he ends up playing. I actually like Will Smith as a 14 ,he’s crafty and quick and Reed can play 80 minutes .In saying that really keen to see where and how Roache fits in to the side as well.

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