The Cumberland Throw

From The Stands – June 21, 2021: Honesty and Leadership

My full weekend of footy viewing culminated in taking up my usual spot in the Bankwest Stadium stands, watching our beloved Eels notch up another win.

I loved our victory against the Bulldogs because of the leadership on display prior to, during and after the game. 

Unfortunately, there are currently too many aspects of the NRL that lack honest, common sense leadership. Every week I see coaches, players and NRL officials make excuses for poor performances, defend the indefensible and in turn simply double down on poor decision making.

I now switch off whenever a game is ruined by the ridiculous rule interpretations that have been forced upon the referees, players and fans alike. I was really enjoying the Roosters and Panthers game and then Nathan Cleary slipped over and insanity prevailed. At that point the TV in my house was switched off. How sad and how worrying that a devoted Rugby League family like mine is switching off. 

While I can lament the lack of leadership at the NRL and watch in amazement as a few coaches across the NRL find excuses for defeat (only serving to give their players places to hide), I watched my Eels on Sunday and saw the opposite.

Nathan Brown

That first half was ugly. We let the excessive holding down in the ruck and the short ten metres dictate our style of play. As the Eels grouped together in the ingoal on the stroke of half time watching as the Bulldogs attempted the conversion I saw our players in the leadership group step up and speak. While I could not hear a word they said, the animated body language and facial expressions told me that Nathan Brown, Clint Gutherson and Ryan Matterson could see what was wrong and they were  going to try and do something about it.

In the second half they did just that. They played more direct, they stopped forcing passes and played with patience. If I go back to our defeat against the Dragons in which we panicked and wanted the quick second half turnaround, we showed last Sunday that we have taken things from that defeat.

I dare say that this is largely due to our ability to be honest – starting with our coach. Although he often gets called on by supporters to speak out about refereeing decisions, he does not. He does not give our players a place to hide. He tells them and supporters the truth and only worries about things that he and the players can control.

Worrying about refereeing decisions in the NRL at the moment is a death spiral. I am glad Brad Arthur never goes there. Instead of complaining other coaches should spend time trying to work out the holes in their roster and find the players in the competition to make them stronger.

Parra Papa

BA has turned our forward pack around from being one dimensional to a skillful, hardworking and physical pack with the smart recruitment of players such as Papali’i, Nathan Brown, Shaun Lane and RCG. I am not sure we would have won against the Dogs without some of these players. 

I also saw leadership on the field. You could see our senior players get Sean Russell into the game early. They got the balance right between trusting him to do his job and also supporting him.

As a long time Eels supporter the best part of the victory was not the two points nor the joy on Sean Russell’s face as he scored. Rather, it was watching his team mates on the field, and those on the bench, jump with joy as he crossed twice. It was heartwarming stuff.

Champion teams have a bond that is obvious to all. You can see that there is a genuine bond between our players – you only have to listen to them speak about their coach to know they trust, respect and support BA and the fact that very little leaks from our club speaks volumes about the level of respect and integrity that is currently in our club. 

My final comment from the stands picks up on some desperate narratives written by journalists to try to create a Blake Ferguson story. The big winger is in Reserve Grade because he has repeatedly made mistakes in first grade that at times have made it impossible or very difficult to achieve victory.

Fergo

The discussion about some dropped ball from our wingers on Sunday, meaning that BA must return Blake to first grade, can only have be pen made by someone who did not watch the Reserve Grade game. We did, and we saw our wingers, fullback and the opposition drop kicks. The conditions on Sunday were tough, and just like in the first grade game, wingers in Reserve Grade, including Fergo, dropped some contested bombs.

As I have repeatedly said, the only good to come from the lazy click bait journalism that at times permeates Rugby League is the fact that most Parra supporters that I speak to simply ignore it.

If Blake Ferguson fixes the issues that BA has raised with him, he has a chance to get back into First Grade. If he does not, or if those in First Grade keep doing their job, then he won’t get the call back up. It really is that simple and it does not matter how many articles the journalists or staff writers at Fox and the like write to the contrary.

Parramatta supporters know the truth, not because we are told so, but because we witness it live for ourselves from the stands at Bankwest.

 

Shelley

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June

Great article Shelley, I agree with everything in it. I too was exciting see how our players react when a debut player scores a try. I actually laughed at Barrett’s press conference I switched it off halfway through. If he thought they were hard done by with six again calls he’s kidding it could have been doubled. That’s what happens when your game plan is to slow the game down and they certainly did that .

Anonymous

Agree 100% June

Colin Hussey

Shelley very good and accurate post, not unusual and to the point, with nothing missed really. I was happy to see Russell get his first NRL game, was very happy to see him score his first try and more than very happy to see the second one. I have taken a bit of a rest from making comments, well up to a point at least, and that brings me to mention 2 players from Sundays games. the first being Dunster,while Haze may not have scored any tries, and is now behind a reggies team mate in that area, from what… Read more »

John Eel

Colin I do not know if you saw it or not but Fergo was easily run down from a similar position he scored from prior to scoring. He seems to have lost a lot of pace since having that knee injury.

Sivo will be back for the next game and these wingers are young and I believe that they will be likely spending some more time in NSW Cup before they become NRL regulars. Notwithstanding it is good to have some speed on the wing. Haze does read the defence well.

Colin Hussey

John, I saw that run by Fergs and showed really how much he has lost speed wise, the other aspect was how he was puffing & blowing near the end of his run. He also went down following another run IIRC where the on field trainer took some time trying to get his leg going as his knee had gone on him I honestly cannot see Ferg’s creating or continuing to play NRL standard any more. When Sivo is back, he will take his normal wing spot, but who is the better option for the right wing spot, Dunster, Russell… Read more »

Big roy

We have a bunch of 18 year olds probably getting blooded a bit sooner than expected simply by attrition and theyve done well , time is on thier side 👍

Anonymous

That’s an important point. It is much sooner than expected, but they will benefit from the experience.

Shaun

This! Well said Shelley.

John Eel

The error rate was horrendous in the first half. The saviour was that the players never dropped there head. The defence stood up and we went to the sheds with only a four point deficit. One take out of the game for me was that the Dogs took out MM every time he kicked on the last. The tackles were not high nor were they shoulder charges. However they were always borderline late with the intent to put him on the ground. After a while Mitch began reacting to the tackles. No penalty was awarded. The problem I see here… Read more »

Wilhelmina

Yes John, this was very noticeable at the game. Didn’t happen to the same extent to Dylan, it did seem to particularly target Mitch.

I think the penalty try was just a player being dumb though – it’s probably the clearest example I can recall of a penalty try, it was just so blatant.

Dday

A good read Shelley. Seems Annesley agrees the sin bin for any head contact isn’t right -as per the his comments about the error in the Reece Robson sin binning.
And the click bait journalism is so endemic and so mind numbingly hallow – thankfully we sites like the TCT.

BDon

Well said Shelley. A journalist today wrote some tripe about Marata finally being caught up with, justice for the Tedesco incident. That is just rubbish reporting without even reminding him of the 2 week suspension for a collision where even Fittler agreed Tedesco’s evasión style contributes.

!0 Year Member

So let me get this right. If a player slips and gets cracked in the head with a swinging arm. You will turn the TV off if the tackler gets sin binned or sent off as you deem it to be accidental. So getting hit in the head accidentally is ok as the defender has no where to go. Give me a break.

Rocket

Did you see Reece Robinson the Cowboys hooker get sent to the bin for head contact on Aiden Tolman.
If Tolman does not trip Robinson would of been tackling him around the waist. His back was perpendicular to the ground when Tolman fell into him. The contact was accidental.

!0 Year Member

I also see the rooster got off without a fine tonight. I guess accidental hits on the head are ok. We have a long way to go to eradicate head highs. I was just glad management is doing something about it. I hope they don’t buckle to the mass hysteria commentary going around.

Anonymous

It’s not mass hysteria. Everyone wants ridiculous shots to the head eliminated. They don’t want unavoidable accidents punished or costing teams matches.

Rocket

That’s why they are called accidents not intended.

John Eel

There are many things in life that are unavoidable and simply can’t be eliminated. Things such as Covid, climate change and in a collision sport head knocks Take a sport like Boxing. You put procedures in place to make it safe but you can’t stop hits to the head. Will they and UFC be taken to a civil court to be sued for damages, possibly. The point is that when contestants jump in the ring in those sports they should expect there is a high likelihood that they will get hit in the head. It is how the sport is… Read more »

Wilhelmina

That Fox article re Fergo being hard done by and trying to justify his return was just terrible – it smacked of the point being decided before the game was played, and then the narrative manipulated to fit it. There was nothing in the performances from Dunster (who they targetted) or Russell to justify a recall for Fergo, even if Sivo wasn’t back. As for Barrett’s little whinge – yeah, nah. The Dogs seemed to be offside more than they were on, Cecchin’s arms must’ve been sore the next day from the amount of waving he did to get them… Read more »

John Eel

Wilhelmina I agree with Barrett. The score was no reflection of the game, the Eels should have won by more. The Dogs offer very little in attack.

The other issue regarding Cecchin is that he began to give the Eels more 6 agains in the second half. However what I also noticed was that once he gave 6 again he would not give a second no matter how deserving it was.

Plenty of times after awarding the 6 again the Dogs infringed further.

Mr controversy aka rev

I agree with you on everything you said. What you left out was that fox are talking out their backside. Mainly buzz rothfield saying that Ferguson is being treated poorly. Buzz is just a gender driven drunk who tries to sell papers for the poor fool who buys that rubbish paper. As for Barrett he can’t coach it’s clear as day. His record at manly n know the bulldogs is enough to say he can’t coach. His not even a reserve grade coach. Look i brads a great coach n I’m glad we have him. I’d never ever want to… Read more »

Raptor Jesus

Your ascertain that all Parramatta fans know the truth about Fergo and agree with you is plainly false and self serving. We do not agree with you! I would have Fergo over Haze in a heartbeat. Sean Russell is an exciting prospect, but Haze has been poor in a good team and was bailed out by his better team mates. His error lead directly to a try and the only other try was thrown straight over his head. Your point about Fergo making mistakes in reggies – Haze was exactly the same when he was in reggies. Fergo does a… Read more »

Colin Hussey

For a player of Ferg’s experience (on the football field), the comparison between him & Dunster is in a way not fair overall. With Fergs, we have a player who came to the eels 2019, his first year showed his experience and try scoring abilities, wow what a great buy as his try tally was there for all to see. Go to 2020 and when did he score his first try? When he came to the eels he was a good purchase and worked, thing is though there was also the Waqa Blake arrival, as a VG centre from Penrith,… Read more »

Shelley

I respect your right to have a different opinion to my opinion and I very much know that supporters have different views. Go back and read my other articles, even some of the recent ones, I did call out Waqa and I also said it was up to our coaches to fit our defensive structure out wide. I guess my point in this. The coaches have found what they think is a solution by replacing Fergo and moving Waqa. Time will tell if this is the correct decision but to suggest that Fergo has been unfairly dropped or has not… Read more »

Raptor Jesus

Waqa and Fergo together were trash. We all agree on this. It needed to be fixed in 2020 and BA failed to address the issue until it was too late and we were getting torched by Melbourne in the finals. If BA played our roster right we could have had a premiership in 2020. Our squad was good enough. It was mismanaged into elimination. The right edge and the interchange use cost us a title. Fergo had a bad 2020 but so did Waqa. In 2021 Fergo was not only safe outside Niukore, he was playing effective footy again. As… Read more »

Jonno

With Fergo we know what we get, if as suggested by some he wont be resigned, then we must look at alternatives. Ergo try our existing juniors or buy a replacement, so i think that is what is occuring. Fergo has been a great addition to our side, even with his ” rocks and diamonds” attitude. I also think he is carrying an injury at the moment. Depending on cost,fitness, personally I would sign him for another year.

John Eel

But Jonno isn’t that part of the problem. While not the only issue but doesn’t Fergo want more than 1 year

Colin Hussey

The other aspect is that Johno pointed out that he thinks Fergs is carrying an injury, in his last NRL game and in the CC game on Sunday, he went down requiring treatment for his right Knee & leg. Its the same leg and the knee that forced him out of last years finals game, even a full off season has not helped his cause. I don’t believe that he’s worth the risk beyond this year, while BA has indicated that he may get an extension as against the early years announcement of not being offered an extension, I would… Read more »

BDon

RJ, the only point I’m buying into is the Dunster error. The Dogs winger(Katoa I think) made a 50/50 play which he got away with. Watch it again, he jumped straight into Dunster and clattered him just as the ball was being caught. His trajectory was forward not upwards and he was never a chance of taking the ball first, he was too late. I was surprised nobody called it.

John Eel

Good call BDon. When I saw it live I was bewildered. Trying to see on the screen at the ground it wasn’t clear.

I have looked at it again since and I believe my initial read was correct. Should have been a penalty to the Eels.

Colin Hussey

John, another of the old rules has taken a hit with that episode. The dogs player and Dunster under the rules of the game is that both players should have been contesting the ball in a legal way. Dunster was in the air as the ball came towards him with Kotoa leeping up and forward to take Dunster out of the contest.

Richie

I love reading your articles Shelley. Thank you

Mr controversy aka rev

Good write up Shelley. I think it’s great watching these young boy’s coming to grade. I’m more then happy to watch these boy’s make a few mistakes it’s part of there learning process. What i saw of Ferguson on the weekend look’s like his more Canterbury cup standard he can stay there or move on. We really need to re-sign papali’i on another 2 yr deal. At this rate other’s will be contacting his manager asking about his availability. I feel for shaun lane ive read on other sites how they slam him from piller to post. I’d like to… Read more »

Colin Hussey

Rev. Lane has been playing really well for some weeks now, his overall physchic makes on think of a large prayingmantus, tall and skinny but his weight being 110Kg’s makes him a very good rampaging player and has really turned his game into something great to watch. Just hope he continues in the same way as he will be very good going forward.

Agree re Fergs.

Mr controversy aka rev

Colin i think lane cops it on 1eye eel fan’s site not going to name name’s but from piller to post he is slammed n not warranted. It’s boarding on disrespect.

Colin Hussey

He’s not the only one rev, when they get a set on a player or others, nothing will appease them.I guess I can put myself in that list as I have been having a shot at Fergs this year.

John Eel

Not to mention the coach

Colin Hussey

V T.

Anonymous

Once again, another great article. Such a shame that journalists of major newspapers don’t have this skill and open minded approach to their writing. Love the take on how you view the game. I believe the Eels have better head space than we’ve had in over 20 seasons. Here’s hoping!

John Eel

MM SOO audition game.

Not saying for 1 minute that he does not give 100% every game but he must be thinking about it.

John Eel

Sorry Shelley. Right sentiment, wrong post.

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