The Cumberland Throw

Team List Tuesday – The Battle Of The Bench Edition

NRL Team List


Brad Arthur has pulled a swift one in this week’s Team List Tuesday with a surprise double change to the team that taught the Brisbane Broncos about the intricacies of survival of the fittest in Round 7. The return of Ryan Matterson was a given after the backrower got through 80-minutes of NSW Cup action on the weekend and I expected him to slot in for the injured Will Smith. The shock comes as the commander-in-chief makes a rare unforced change to a winning lineup with Haze Dunster replacing Wiremu Greig.

I guess the first question to comes to mind, as with Will Penisini last week before it was proven to be a clerical error, does this indicate any potential shenanigans being afoot? Are we looking at another possible pre-game swap with Marata Niukore and then maybe bumping Blake Ferguson into the centres to get Dunster to the right-wing? If I am to be perfectly honest, that seems to be far too convoluted. Furthermore, should we invoke Occam’s Razorthe most likely answer is that Dunter is either actually starting at wing for a currently undisclosed injured player or merely emergency cover. For the former scenario I would guess that perhaps Maika Sivo pulled up a bit battered from the trip to the Top End. In the latter Dunster will see only see the field in a crisis or perhaps in the last quarter on the wing if the contest is a blow out.

It would leave me saddened to see the big tearaway in Greig dropped after an encouraging start to his NRL career against the Raiders and Broncos. He might avoid that fate if Dunster is indeed replacing Sivo or Ferguson but if he doesn’t I guess it is fair to point out that we knew a bench controversy was brewing one way or another for some time. It just happened to arrive in a slightly different manner to what we all expected!

As it stands, the move leaves the Eels somewhat light on rotational middle forwards at first glance. However, once Matterson and Bryce Cartwright enter the game against the Bulldogs on Saturday Arthur has the luxury of redeploying both Isaiah Papali’i and Shaun Lane into the middle corridor to bolster the ruck.

Parramatta have done exceptionally well to backup a landmark victory over the Raiders in Canberra with their first ever blowout victory in Darwin. Never has there been a better time to buck recent trends as they take on the Bulldogs and get the chance to post a comprehensive victory following a run of shockingly close skirmishes against their old rival.

Canterbury themselves are coming off a drought breaking victory over the Cronulla Sharks. I legitimately have no idea whether that means they are ready to keep rolling or will be lax or perhaps over-confident. Regardless, the Eels will need to prepare as if the Belmorians will be bringing their A-game on Saturday at 5:30PM.


1. Clinton Gutherson ©
2. Maika Sivo
3. Tom Opacic
4. Marata Niukore
5. Blake Ferguson
6. Dylan Brown
7. Mitchell Moses
8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
9. Reed Mahoney
10. Junior Paulo
11. Shaun Lane
12. Isaiah Papali’i
13. Nathan Brown
14. Oregon Kaufusi
15. Ryan Matterson
16. Haze Dunster
17. Bryce Cartwright
18. Joey Lussick
19. Keegan Hipgrave
20. Wiremu Greig
21. Jordan Rankin


Injury Update


Waqa Blake – Calf (Rd 9-10)

Ray Stone – Shoulder (Rd 9-10)

Will Smith – Thumb (TBA)


NSW Cup Team List


A second half scorcher from the Eels saw them run rampant over the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Round 7. The 38-20 victory lifts Parramatta back into the Top 4 – although there is a buffer between them and the two top placed teams in the Panthers and Magpies as it stands. Still, this young team is finding ways to be highly competitive as they learn on the job – perhaps best exemplified by Jakob Arthur as he starred in that second half surge.

New recruit Hayze Perham took over the fullback duties from Sean Russell and while both did plenty with the ball in hand, it did lead to some awkward moments in defence. Russell has not played wing in some considerable time and it will interesting to see how quickly he can get up to speed in that aspect over the coming weeks.

Coach Ryan Carr has kept the team sheet pretty consistent in light of Saturday’s result.Toa Mataafa jumps from the utility back role on the bench to starting wing to replace Haze Dunster. Carr has also filled Ryan Matterson’s place in his starting roster with Wiremu Greig and shuffled Makahesi Makatoa and Keegan Hipgrave around in the backrow. The only new name in the team beyond that is Kurt Dillon who reinforces the interchange bench.

The Eels travel out past Liverpool to Hinchinbrook on Sunday to take on Mounties at Aubrey Keech Reserve at 3:00PM. Mounties sit on 3-wins for the season like the Eels and it shapes up as a cracking encounter on paper.


1. Hayze Perham
2. Sean Russell
3. Will Penisini
4. Michael Oldfield
5. Toa Mataafa
6. Jordan Rankin
7. Jakob Arthur
8. Ky Rodwell
9. Joey Lussick
10. Wiremu Greig
11. Elie El-Zakhem
12. Keegan Hipgrave
13. Makahesi Makatoa
14. Nathaniel Roache
15. Kurt Dillon
16. Charbel Tasipale
17. Aitasi James


Jersey Flegg Team List


Like their senior cohorts, the Jersey Flegg posted an excellent victory in Round 7. The 48-12 demolition of the Rabbitohs was easily their best result in 2021 to date and comes amidst a NXT style takeover from the SG Ball. Jabriel Kalache, Peter Taateo, Jontay-Junior Betham-Misa and Brock Parker all contributed positively to the 36-point thrashing with Taateo in particular playing like a whirling dervish down the left-edge for the blue & gold.

Parker is absent from the team this week (possibly due to injury) but the SG Ball invasion continues as Caleb Tohi returns and Larry Muagututia makes his Flegg debut. Tohi and Taateo give the Eels two potential devastating weapons in the backrow given that the both are explosive athletes that have a knack for beating the first defender.

The Eels will be hunting their third win of the season against the Bulldogs. In doing so they can lift their season to a 3-3 record and shore up their place in the Top 6. The Dogs are one place ahead of Parramatta in 5th entering Round 8 but are actually 1.5 wins ahead of the Eels due to a draw. This will be the curtain raiser to the NRL on Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 3:15PM out at Stadium Australia.


1. Tevita Masima
2. Solomone Naiduki
3. Jabriel Kalache
4. Jayden Skinner
5. Freuan Easthope
6. Clayton Faulalo
7. Kyle Schneider
8. Dave Hollis
9. Jayden Yates
10. Jack Colovatti
11. Oliver Clements
12. Peter Taateo
13. Caleb Tohi
14. Ethan Le Blanc
15. Jontay Betham-Misa
16. Lennox Whittiker
17. Larry Muagututia

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Just found you guys this year on Twitter and am really impressed with the work you put in. Great insights into the team. Thank you, from a long time Eels tragic. Baylo xx


I suspect Haze will play a few mins with marata moving into the middle.
Or if the game is wrapped up with 20 to go Gutho may get a rest

matthew sweeney

entirely possible mate, i thought gutho looked very weary after last weeks win


Isn’t it wonderful having options, and quality ones at that. Matto off the bench to “ease” him back is a luxury most don’t have. It’s a testament to the way the club is managing its current and future talent pool. NBrown seems to have been a bit quiet but I’m convinced it’s more about the level of effort around him that’s made it look that way. That said, I reckon he is due for a big one. Remember he got suspended last year going for a big shot on a Doggy and he seems to fire up against JJackson. Lessgo… Read more »


Are you over-calling it Forty? (I mean that matter-of-factly, not critically). Cartwright gives us flexibility with Dunster in the backs.The 3 105kg+ blokes on the bench give us good punch, throw in Papali’i and Lane (as you say) and we have flexibility in the forwards. Maybe it’s that simple for BA.

Mr controversy aka rev

40/20 we need a better pic of GW not some old 400 yr old fossel.

I’ve got a funny feeling brad will swap dunster w ith hipgrave. I really don’t see dunster playing. Unless he brings marata off then put him at centre. Eels by plenty let’s say.
Eels 42 bulldogs 6

John Eel

If I am reading you correctly BDon I am with you. I think if Haze was there to cover a possible injury to Maika then surely that would have been done from the extended bench. I get a sense that it is being done to give Haze some time in NRL and an opportunity to get Marata back to the Middle. However I do feel for Wiremu. The more I see of him the more I like what he contributes. I am sure that he will be back in the NRL soon enough. BA has probably given him some homework… Read more »

Longfin Eel

I think you are right John. Wiremu will be back, no doubt about that, and as you say he probably has a few things to work on. I’d have a guess too that BA is giving Haze a bit more NRL experience, and this looks like a good time to do it. I like how BA is mixing the bench up week to week, which really changes up the game.

matthew sweeney

maybe we dont have this luxury but I think its high time to give dunster 80 mins sink or swim I’m starting to doubt if he is going to have the speed to be be sensational and we need to know if he will cut it


From what I’ve seen of Haze he won’t be a superstar or or aybe not a long-term player but he will do a capable job for the team and the more he plays the better he will get


I guess maybe Grieg might benefit from longer minutes,he has certainly handled the step up,that running style can’t be easy to tackle low.Will be good to see Dunster get a good hit out against an easier opposition.

Murray Cod

I think you are on the mark with our new big-man Eggman. He needs match fitness if he is to develop into the middle we need him to be come second round and finals. BA is not shy about sending players back to Reggies for an 80 minute effort as we have seen with Bryce and Matto.


Nice to see Haze get a run but it is puzzling having a winger on the bench.
I’m a little concerned about the effects of last weeks energy sapping effort in Darwin. It would be understandable if the boys were a little flat after a game in that heat and humidity.


I like what BA has done; mixing it up. There’s flexibility as you say Forty with Marata/Papalii/Lane potentially moving to the middle when Cartwright/Matto come on. Good to see Matto eased back – hard to argue Papalii doesn’t deserve a run on spot.

Pleased to see Haze picked, must be hard to consistently be on the edge of selection. Whether he’s covering injury or going to get a taster it’s great to see him given the opportunity with SOO in 5 weeks.

Luke Winley

Wiremu will do well to get 80 mins into him in reserve grade


With Junior a lock in for origin its worth getting minutes into him in reggies because he will be needed during that period

matthew sweeney

All good obs sixties on motivations behind Dunster getting kicked up. But in this more than ever horses for courses team selection process of the modern game, I like to , perhaps somewhat euphemistically , supplant the word dropped for rotation. In this light we can see the wiremu omission more of a considered way to introduce him into the rigours of week in week out fg footy.


Great read
Why is Schneider playing 7?
Thought he was a gun hooker?


I think the team will have an easy week of training to recover from Darwin.
I hope.

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