The Cumberland Throw

Bumpers Up – April 19, 2021: Valuing Stability And Composure

“All around this chaos and madness,

Can’t help feeling nothing more than sadness“

Those lines from the Cold Chisel song, When The War Is Over, used to apply to the Eels.

Fortunately the stability that now exists, from Club Directors through to NRL coaching staff, is taking the Eels to the upper echelons of NRL clubs.

It’s evident in a Leagues Club that adapted and navigated through the uncertainty of COVID shut downs and limitations, a football organisation that has surpassed 30 thousand members and formed new and exciting corporate partnerships, and a team which looks destined to achieve another year of finals football.

When you find the right formula, you stay with it. Not blindly, not without evolution or growth, but you do place value on productive stability – especially in your leadership.

Stability is the theme as I cart the ball into this week’s column.

Bumpers up!

Coaching Stability

Over the weekend, the Sunday Telegraph published this graphic from Aaron Wallace of Fox Sports which illustrated the correlation between the performance of NRL clubs and the length of tenure of their coaches.

A terrific graphic

Essentially, clubs such as the Storm, the Roosters, the Raiders and the Eels which are expected to regularly feature in finals footy just happened to have the longest tenured coaches.

Given Ivan Cleary is now in his seventh season with the Panthers, albeit in two stints, it would be reasonable to add the Penrith club to that list.

Are we talking the chicken or the egg here?

Is it the success which determines tenure or is it the stability of tenure which is rewarded with success?

Without question, multiple seasons without finals appearances or evidence of improvement would hardly be the formula for any coach to earn a contract extension.

Yet, there is a case to be made that decision makers saw beyond table position when making calls about the coach at the Roosters, Raiders, Eels and Panthers.

Trent Robinson’s Roosters finished in 15th place in 2016. His club looked at the runs he had on the board prior to that year, and he’s since proven that the near-spoon season was an anomaly.

In his first five seasons at the helm of the Raiders, Ricky Stuart made one finals appearance. It was bookended by three tenth placed finishes and a 15th placed finish. Hardly awe inspiring despite his long term deal. But his club stuck solid.

Brad Arthur

Brad Arthur inherited a team which had finished with the spoon in the two seasons which preceded his appointment. After immediately transforming the team into a competitive unit, only the catastrophe of the salary cap debacle robbed him of a finals appearance in his third year in charge. Like Robinson, an anomalous season at the bottom of the table in 2018 now sits in the middle of a run of finals appearances for his team.

During his first four year stint at the Panthers, Ivan Cleary only steered the team to one finals series. Still, the club sought his return, and remained patient when his first year back in charge yielded a disappointing 10th place finish. They are now the pacesetters of the premiership.

At any stage, each of those clubs could have hit the panic button and parted ways with their coach. Only those with short memories would forget the calls from the supporter groups to do just that during the lean years for their respective clubs. Indeed, there are still Eels supporters who remarkably believe that greener pastures can be found under a different coach.

As far as I’m concerned, our Eels are now showing the benefits of stability, from club directors to NRL staff.

It’s a path that, as the evidence strongly supports, we need to remain on.


On-Field Patience And Composure 

Round 6 of the NRL was easily the best of the season. Matches were action packed, and some teams lifted far beyond what most of us thought they were capable of doing.

As the Broncos went toe to toe with the Panthers, a half time message from Kevin Walters to his team resonated with me.

Television coverage reported that Kevvie’s instruction to his charges was to not get bored with the game plan. They were finding success in taking on the Panthers through the middle and not overplaying their hand. It was important to stay the course.

Ultimately, that proved to be a bridge too far as his players lost their patience at various stages of the second half, allowing the Panthers to secure the lead and the victory late in the match. Had they not unnecessarily shifted the ball or kicked early in the count when camped in the Penrith quarter, the result may have been different.

The last two weeks should also have been a lesson for the Eels.

Against the Dragons there was no shortage of effort, but there was a distinct lack of composure and footy intelligence in the loss.

Victory over the Raiders was sweet (photo credit Eels media)

Conversely, the win over the Raiders away from home was the epitome of a team patiently sticking to a plan. And just like the win over the Sharks, the points flowed late in the match as their opponent succumbed to sustained pressure.

Winning the middle, completing sets, and kicking to the corners doesn’t mean that the team can’t play without flair. It doesn’t mean that unstructured footy isn’t possible. After all, the try scored by Shaun Lane was reminiscent of the magic of the 2009 Eels. Moments like that are possible when the opposition become fatigued by the workload imposed by a disciplined attack.

Hopefully the value of staying the course to produce consistent, composed footy is now crystal clear to the squad.


Sticking With Moses

Did Mitch Moses just find a level in his footy that many believed he did not possess?

I’ve gone on record with my opinion that he is often and unfairly judged very harshly. He’s been labelled a flat track bully and incapable of rising to the occasion in big matches.

In my opinion, Moses has matured as a footballer and as a person during his time with the Eels. From the moment he chose to look in the mirror after the disastrous 2018 season, he’s been on a different path to the one he previously walked.

Moses in action (image credit Channel 9)

That said, I wasn’t sure that the Eels half could control a match for the full 80 minutes in the way that he did against the Raiders.

What do I mean by that?

We’ve all seen Mitch Moses deliver big moments in games before. He’s produced man of the match performances multiple times during his career.

On Saturday, his stats were very good without being outstanding.

Yet, his influence on the team was undeniable. Furthermore and most importantly, his role in the victory was not found in a couple of match turning moments – the sort of stuff he’s done before.

Rather, his stamp on the game was present throughout the entire match – from the first to the last minute.

As Cooper Cronk observed, that must now be the new standard that Moses looks to consistently achieve.


Reactionary Change From Officialdom

Stand by sports fans. We need to brace ourselves for a potential welter of sin bins, send offs and suspensions over the coming weeks.

The last two weeks have signalled that the game’s power brokers have hit the obligatory crackdown button – it’s that special switch that sees referees and MRCs focus on an issue for a designated short term period before things return to normal.

In the meantime, players deal with increased penalties for a few weeks and punters navigate the confusion.

That tackle

Case in point – Ashley Klein. The referee who declined using the sin bin for the elbow wielding Felice Kaufusi, this weekend sends off Jack Hetherington for his high reflex tackle on Val Holmes.

I have no problem with that decision. However, we know that similar incidents will merely be placed on report later in the season.

Even more infuriatingly, Latrell Mitchell escaped any penalty for his indiscretions during his side’s victory just one day earlier. Though he’s since been charged, how does that benefit the Tigers who arguably would have won that match had Mitchell spent time off the field?

Don’t get me started on the Storm getting the benefit of an opposition player being sin binned for a tackle on Munster. Even though Munster didn’t require a HIA!

We know we can expect inconsistencies across a season, but these few examples demonstrate that unacceptable inconsistencies exist across the same round. Furthermore, we have even witnessed a referee applying vastly different judgement to serious indiscretions within a few short weeks.

And as for Dylan Brown’s suspension, I don’t believe I’ve seen a more innocuous tackle attract such a charge.

I’m all for protecting players, but the answer to reducing dangerous play is not found in short term, reactionary solutions. Nor is it found in ridiculous suspensions for unremarkable tackles that are neither reckless nor careless.


Junior Rep Success

This coming Saturday, the Eels Harold Matthews side plays their grand final qualifying match against the Panthers at H.E. Laybutt Field at Blacktown.

The team earned a direct passage to this match when finishing second to Manly during the regular season. They lost to the Sea Eagles in the first round then went on to win seven straight games to climb the ladder from that point.

This will not be any easy match. No clash with our western Sydney rival ever is.

It’s an 11am kick off, and I’m sure the boys would appreciate any support they can get at the venue.

If you can’t get there, make sure you catch Forty’s live blog as he captures the action for TCT.

Go you Eels!


Territory Eels

The Eels take on the Broncos in Darwin in a rare Friday Night Footy telecast from the Northern Territory.

Traditionally played on a Saturday night, the annual trip to TIO Stadium is part of the partnership between the Northern Territory Government and the Parramatta Eels. The agreement with the NT Government now stretches back to the 2014 season, a sign of the value that they place in their relationship with the club.

Importantly, with Australian tourism at the forefront of economic recovery, the free to air coverage will be a timely promotion of the NT, as well as providing increased awareness of Parramatta’s rugby league and community programs up north.

The Eels NRL squad will be flying up on Wednesday in preparation for the event.

Elsewhere, both the Jersey Flegg and Knock on Effect NSW Cup teams will be taking on the Rabbitohs from 3:30 pm, Saturday afternoon at Ringrose Park.

After covering the Matts grand final qualifier at Blacktown TCT will endeavour to live blog both of these grades via our resident expert caller, Forty20.

Eels forever!


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

Good article, and the club is remaining resolute in the face of attempts to disable their philosophy with people like Rothfield publishing the rubbish about different players and their contract situation. Seriously, those in the current media that we see on NRL 360 seem resolute to hammer teams other than their darlings like the Roosters,Storm and Souths. Having said that, there has been a campaign from our own so called fans calling for the coaches dismissal every week, thank goodness the board and football dept care less. Stability in the direction of the club, roster management and setting sensible values… Read more »

Big roy

Well said derek , Prior to current administration the boards made most of thier decisions as knee jerk reactions to media and minority fan assassinations of good people trying their best when in actual fact the problems were the boards themselves , previous boards actually made roster signings over riding coaches selections , Stability and support are the key elements for success , this has only been happening since max donnelly took out the rubbish and installed the current board and systems , the fools and agitators will always be there but now they dont have enough power to run… Read more »

John Eel

One little point on the officiating.

It appears Munster either faked concussion or made a remarkable recovery. He was off the field for 27 seconds, long enough for him to see Victor Radley sent to the bin.

Is there no end to the way the Storm are able to scam the system.

I was always of the opinion there was a mandatory 15 minutes off the field for a HIA


Dare I say it but in terms of getting the best out of journeyman players, BA is having a Bellamesque effect. Opacic, Hipgrave etc just turn up and do their job and do it well. And then there are players like Papali, RCG, Sivo who were languishing at other clubs and become stars at Parra. Good signs. The finals hoodoo still needs to be overcome but I expect that will also go by the wayside very soon.


The Penrith v Broncos stats don’t suggest a high standard game, but the Broncs definitely improved. Haas, Pangai Jnr and Corey Oates had huge games, so Darwin will be interesting.


Yes sixties, Penrith were off their usual crisp, fast, persistent execution. The 3 Broncs I mentioned led the way with really quality, robust running, the others lifted.

John Eel

With regard to long term coaches being a point of difference between the top teams and the aspiring teams is the settled roster. Bellamy has basically had a settled roster since he arrived at the Storm. There is no coincidence that Bellamy has such a good record for winning Rd1 games each season. It is a result of a settled roster. The aspiring teams will begin to close the gap as the season progresses. The Eels recruited as good as any team in the NRL this season. While none of the recruits were “Big name” recruits taking a chunk out… Read more »

Colin Hussey

Good post John, and I agree with you especially in the need for settled roster, thing for me is also the relationship that exists with a settled roster and settled coaching team. In saying that, the element of having that settled area working together relies very heavily on the head coach, who also needs competent assistants that can make good decisions, the next equation includes the unknown sniffers, they being from the old school of spotters, ones who can spot and sniff out good players that will benefit the club. This year so far, we have brought in good players,… Read more »

John Eel

As good as Marata has been I want to see him back in the forwards. He is great impact off the bench and we are a better team as a result.

Once Matto is back and with Cartwright on the bench maybe we will have a 4 forward bench.

How do you cover Reed?

Colin Hussey

Without doubt sixties there needs to be a high point in relationships at each level at and of the club, while I have mentioned just the two areas, namely coaching staff and players, there is also a need for settled as well as relational leaders in the administrational side of the club as well. I believe that exists, but I also sometimes think that the aspect of contractural negotiations, actually needs to be somehow stepped up a bit, to (if possible) to contract negotiations handled that has the 3 areas involved, namely, admin bosses, coach and player, especialy when there… Read more »

John Eel

Colin the one positive at the moment is that these negotiations are happening behind closed doors.

Based on the philosophy of the current board, when items appear in the press it is most likely a sign that the player manager is not getting his way.

Contract negotiations are tough. Both parties have got to be happy. If you get the contract amount or the length of the contract wrong it can really hurt a club

When both parties want the same end it is generally a better outcome.

John Eel

I see people like Buzz at times come out with things that are beyond his pay grade

I read one of his random comments recently where he spoke about contract negotiations. The absurdity of it was he would had to have been part of the negotiation to be able to know the detail.

Can we conclude from that he is doing the bidding of some of the player managers?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x