What a week!
The announcement of Parra’s inclusion in the 2021 NRLW Premiership was soon followed by an eventful win over the Tigers, including that “moment” between Gutho and Moses. Now we have a couple of unexpected team list inclusions that have just been announced for this week’s clash with the Dogs.
If rugby league is a never ending drama, then the Eels are undoubtedly one of its star attractions, with the media doing their best impersonation of tabloid photographers chasing that perfect click bait moment.
So let’s take that first pass off the scrum and don’t forget, Bumpers Up!
Gutho vs Moses
Forget Gallen vs Huni. The real action was apparently between the King and the Prince of Egypt.
There was media talk regarding the language used – nobody needed special lip reading skills to work it out. Inevitably this was followed by the interpretation that it was an insult to speak to the team captain in that way.
BA was asked about it in the presser and he quickly referred to the relationship between the pair and how they let fly at each other from the moment they walk onto the training paddock each day.
Let me assure Eels supporters that it’s exactly like that.
These two don’t let up, especially when they’re competing in drills. If Gutho stuffs up his passes or kicks, Moses reminds him who he should be watching. If Moses isn’t part of a drill, Gutho reminds BA how much better they go without the halfback.
The banter is as colourful as the language which accompanies it.
Let’s leave the last word to Gutho on this.
Ray Hadley made a goose of himself on Monday morning radio when he declared that the incident involving Isaiah Papali’i was one of the worst he’d seen in his 35 years covering the game.
Seriously Bolts! It wasn’t even the worst incident in Sunday’s game. More on that in a moment.
And when the news came through that Ice only received a fine, the shock jock was outraged, naming the members of the MRC and calling on V’landys to take action.
Not satisfied with his own radio show as the only platform for his rant, he doubled down 30 hours later on NRL360, declaring that the Eels had ‘got away with blue murder”.
Let it go Ray. Let it go.
Hadley’s rant aside, it was not Papali’i’s finest moment on the footy field. I reckon most of us were stunned when it happened. Though it involved nothing more than leaning or lowering his knee on Leilua’s head, it was an action which rightfully resulted in the sin bin penalty.
Let’s put it down as an aberration. And let’s hope Ice doesn’t go there again.
Justice For Reg
The aforementioned indiscretion from Papa was part of a prolonged period in the second half on Sunday which lacked composure, something that the Eels cannot afford to do against the competition’s heavyweights.
Though the Eels players shouldn’t use this as an excuse, there was a moment in the game which triggered emotions and was arguably a much worse attack to the head than that inflicted by Papa’s leaning knee.
If Ray Hadley lost the plot over Papa, all Eels fans were entitled to feel infuriated by the lack of action taken against Tiger’s player Tom Amone. He treated RCG’s head like a slab of clay on a pottery wheel, trying to reshape it with his hand and forearm – and Parra’s forwards understandably reacted.
Some might call it a good old fashioned facial. It was that and maybe a bit more. There was definitely more contact than the light swipes across the face which are currently attracting penalties and being placed on report.
Despite the obvious intent and contact, Amone‘s action was reviewed without penalty, which only served to infuriate the Eels forwards. Unfortunately, it would be a Parra player who paid the price just moments later.
Amone has since been fined $1150 for a grade 1 contrary conduct, an identical charge and punishment to that received by Papali’i.
I’m beyond trying to work out why the on-field consequence wasn’t also the same.
NRLW History For Parra
Last week’s announcement of the expansion of the 2021 NRLW season was history in the making.
With all due respect to the previous seasons, I had viewed the NRLW as a series of showcase events rather than a premiership. A competition that lasted only four weeks, including the grand final, did not provide any team with the opportunity to build into form.
Now kicking off alongside round 23 of the NRL Premiership, we will see six teams competing across five ordinary rounds before they play a finals series. No longer will the grand finalists be determined after a couple of rounds.
This is not meant as a criticism of prior seasons, but rather a measure of how important the expansion will be.
Players and spectators have required patience up to now. Each year they’ve only had a grand total of seven matches to look forward to and there hasn’t necessarily been a team for them to support. There are now three new teams from new regions.
The Broncos have been dominant up to this point, but they’ll have to share their state with the Titans. And rugby league heartlands such as Newcastle and western Sydney will finally have representation via the Knights and the Eels.
As far as Parra is concerned, a destination point now exists for female pathways players. Previously, any graduates of their Tasha Gale teams could not be Parra aspirational.
Now, they can be.
I’m expecting more female pathways news to follow.
Silver Spoon Silvertails
When it comes to the race for the top four in this year’s premiership, you cannot write off the Sea Eagles.
Without question, they have been blessed with a draw that other top teams could only dream of having.
Check out the teams that each of the current top six are drawn to play twice.
Panthers – Broncos, Bulldogs, Sharks, Sea Eagles, Storm, Eels, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Tigers (5/5)
Storm – Broncos, Raiders, Sharks, Titans, Warriors, Eels, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Roosters (4/5)
Parramatta – Broncos, Raiders, Bulldogs, Sea Eagles, Storm, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Tigers (5/5)
Souths – Panthers, Eels, Storm, Roosters, Broncos, Titans, Bulldogs, Tigers, Dragons (4/5)
Roosters – Storm, Rabbitohs, Panthers, Eels, Knights, Raiders, Broncos, Cowboys, Dragons (4/5)
Manly – Bulldogs, Raiders, Titans, Warriors, Cowboys, Eels, Panthers, Dragons, Tigers (2/5)
That’s correct. Whilst teams such as Parra and Penrith are required to play each of the other top 6 teams twice, Manly only faces a double against two other top six sides.
If Tommy Turbo stays healthy, put your money on them to finish in the top four. The odds of $6.50 looks very generous and the $1.15 for top 8 is better than bank interest for what is surely an easy collect. (Gamble responsibly)
The selection of Sean Russell following Maika Sivo’s suspension is exciting news. Along with fellow Parra pathways player Jake Arthur, Russell has earned an NRL debut in his first year out of school footy.
The Rouse Hill Junior has found his groove in the Knock On Effect NSW Cup over recent weeks. After playing as a fullback early in the season, he’s mostly found himself on the wing since Hayze Perham’s arrival.
Sean has the pace to be effective as a winger. By way of comparison, I’ve watched him outpace Waqa Blake during a training session game. Anyone who’s watched Waqa in full flight knows that’s quite fast. Sean has also scored a couple of long distance tries in the NSW Cup this season.
Along with other spine players, Sean has received tutoring from Joey John’s over the past 18 months. I spoke with Joey after one session and he singled Sean out for some high praise. This 2021 debut would probably come as no surprise to him.
Congratulations to both Nathaniel Roache and Eels staff for the former Warriors player’s Blue and Gold debut this coming weekend.
Roache is both a talent and a physical specimen. Unfortunately, injuries have curtailed much of his career. Fortunately, the hard rehab work during the preseason has paid off.
Since debuting for the Warriors as a 19 year old in 2016, the talented rake has only made 26 NRL appearances in the last five and a half seasons. His most recent top grade appearance was round 15 of 2019.
Roache had some niggles during the preseason, but when he was out on the training track he impressed me with his running game and his ability to engage the defence before distributing the ball.
He’s had an encouraging run of form in the NSW Cup for Parra this season and has now earned that bench spot in the NRL. We wish him well for his club debut.
Speaking of debuts, there’s no doubt that Jake Arthur benefitted from his time in the top grade.
The young half has continued to shine back in the NSW Cup, and I wanted to highlight one of his plays from Sunday (see above) which highlighted how important competing in every moment can be.
With the Eels holding a 28 to 12 lead, a certain try was thwarted by a Wests intercept ten metres out. Jake Arthur was the only serious chaser, forcing the winger to cross out wide. The conversion was missed.
Not long after, the Magpies added two more tries. The final score was 28 to 26 to the Eels.
Forget Arthur’s try and try assist. That chase was the winning play.
The Tip Sheet Live
It was terrific to once again have a full house in Pablos restaurant in Parra Leagues last Sunday for our pre-match live podcast. Our thanks to our special guests, Mary K from Ladies Who League and legendary Eels winger, Neville Glover.
This was the third of our live pods this season as part of Parra Leagues match day festivities. Eels fans have been flocking to the club to enjoy a feed, a drink and a catch up with family and friends before the big game, and where better than the Home of The Eels!
Our next scheduled appearance will be before the Round 21 game against the Rabbitohs. See you there!
PS – #ImmortalPrice