The Cumberland Throw

Bumpers Up – July 19, 2021: The Milf And Mindset Edition

How are you doing with the lockdown?

For those of us in greater Sydney and surrounds, second time around feels a lot longer. I hope you are all as well as can be, and I extend my thoughts and best wishes to those doing it tough.

Without question, had the NRL not relocated to Queensland, the competition would have been in trouble.

So, as those of us in lockdown look for distractions, the footy remains a loyal old mate – always there to take our minds away from the frustrations or the pain of current times. We might miss those days when we can let out our frustrations with a bit of a yell at Bankwest Stadium, but if our neighbours are understanding, they’ll know that the loud expletives from our lounge rooms are coinciding with televised Parra matches.

Of course, this great game and club of ours remains a bottomless well when it comes to discussion topics. Being stuck at home might stop me from watching Eels training or getting to Parra games, but it won’t shut down my opinions.

And there’s plenty to think about in this mindset edition.

Bumpers Up people.

Milf Anyone?

Media sources are reporting the Eels interest in securing unwanted Bronco Anthony Milford for the balance of 2021.

I’m all for this, though I’d hope that the contract would extend into 2022.

The much maligned Broncos utility was already going to feature in my post for potential 2022 signings. With much of the Eels focus for next year being directed to retention, and rightly so, the club will need to look for value signings, much like they have this year.

Milford

When the Broncos first recruited Milford from the Raiders, he was one of the most electrifying players in the premiership. His career over recent seasons has been in reverse, but I’d put that down to a combination of headspace and coaching.

What we have learned about Milf, that the Broncos seem to have struggled with understanding, is that he’s not a game manager. Yet time and again he was expected to control the fortunes of his team as his coaches shifted him from one spot to another in the spine without ever really defining a role which reflected his strengths.

Personally, I see his immediate value as a dangerous impact player off the bench. However, I also see his future potential as a centre.

His build isn’t dissimilar to Michael Jennings and he also possesses a blinding acceleration reminiscent of our old centre. The possibility of Milford having space out wide to beat a defender one on one is an exciting prospect.

The other positive about such a positional switch is that it would simplify his role, something that I believe he would benefit from as he looks to regain confidence.

Of course, all of this is on the premise that it’s at the right price. Much like the list of 2021 acquisitions, it becomes a question of looking for great value for money from unwanted players who still possess untapped talent.

BA and the coaching staff have brought out the best in our 2021 additions and I’d back them to turn Milford into someone who thinks and plays positively once again.

 

Relocation Positives

Brad Arthur spoke about Parra’s perspective on the current relocation of the NRL. They see it as a new competition and a new challenge. If you take a moment to consider that mindset, it is a genius one to take in the run to the finals.

It’s not unusual for coaches to break seasons into segments. They also look for ways to freshen up their teams in the back half of the season. This move to Queensland is a massive reset for all relocated clubs. How they mentally approach it could be the difference between success and failure.

The Storm and the Warriors each had a positive response to their new home bases last year. I’d even argue that the Warriors found a hitherto unseen level of resilience when forced to live and play away from home in 2020.

In the short term, it’s possible to liken the move to Queensland to being a team on tour. In many instances it strengthens bonds and sharpens the focus for a short period of time.

So whilst doing this for multiple seasons might take its toll (as it appears to be doing with the Warriors), it might provide the mental freshening that teams can take advantage of towards the pointy end of a long NRL season.

 

The Glass Is Half Full

Be honest!

How many of you were worried when Paulo and Moses were announced as late withdrawals from Friday’s match?

Some FoxNRL experts openly changed their tips and there were Eels supporters on social media who were even suggesting a big loss was on the cards.

In reality, these concerns paid little attention to the last two seasons of exposed form. 

Winners (image via Eels media)

The Eels finished with a 15/5 regular season record in 2020 and currently sit at 13/4 in 2021. It’s a strong recent history which deserves a glass half-full perspective.

In contrast, the Titans won just nine matches last season, with the Knights their only top 8 scalp. And this year, despite fielding a team containing four current and three former Origin players, they’ve had a mere four victories. No doubt they can throw plenty of questions with their attack, but defence must be a foreign language to them.

For many years, Eels supporters have looked enviously at the depth of clubs like the Roosters, the Storm and more recently, the Panthers. It’s time to view our own club with similar praise.

Jake Arthur is a talented player of the future, and Marata Niukore is arguably the premier bench forward in the NRL. Their inclusion in the starting team was hardly cause for concern.

Whilst Moses and Paulo are in the elite class and the Eels title chances are linked to their presence, the depth of Parra’s squad ensures that the sky doesn’t fall with their short term absence.

 

Reflecting On Defence

In his match preview, Gol slightly reworded an Alex Ferguson quote when he stated that attack wins hearts but defence wins championships.

Whilst there is some way to go for the Eels to start talking titles, the defensive resolve of the team has taken a step in the right direction.

Further evidence was available in the victory over the Titans. Though it’s relevant to point to the ladder position of the Gold Coast when forecasting the likelihood of a win, it is also worthwhile to examine the Titan’s potency in attack.

Prior to Friday night, the Titans were scoring an average of just over 24 points per game. Though their defensive qualities were highly questionable, they had tested the best defences with their attack.

Restricting them to just 8 points on Friday night was a big tick for the Eels defence.

 

Thinking Beyond The Top 17

If you haven’t caught up with my Knock On Effect NSW Cup Report, it details both the form of the Parramatta team and key individual performances across a number of key statistics.

Makahesi Makatoa

The Eels were sitting outright second when the competition was suspended (hopefully it returns), and lead the competition in completion rates, kick metres and post contact metres.

Furthermore, Parra players figure prominently at the top of the leader board in a number of important metrics.

Prop forward Makahesi Makatoa has been an absolute stand out, with back rower Elie El-Zakhem making an impression with his work rate and strike power.

Not everybody has the opportunity to take in lower grade games, so it’s well worth visiting my NSW Cup post to familiarise yourself with players pushing for an NRL spot.

 

Praising Parra’s Origin Stars

A quick word is warranted on Origin 3.

I rated Junior Paulo’s performance as his best of the series. The talented prop’s second stint in the closing quarter of the game threatened to take the match away from the Maroons, with his charges and footwork constantly threatening the line.

Junior

When it comes to Mitch Moses, the post match hate was only equaled by the pre-match questions about his selection.

I often wonder whether some punters actually watch the game with any level of understanding.

After an early adjustment to the faster pace of the game, Moses produced one of the better Origin debuts from recent years. He was composed, provided good service to his outside men, kicked well, defended like a demon and ultimately delivered two try assists.

Those looking for a reason for the loss should look elsewhere.

Stay Tuned

It’s a well known trait that most people don’t regularly read their emails. This is especially true if communications from organisations end up in the junk or promotions file.

However, with the current loss of home games and information regarding last year’s pledge coming out, it’s important for Eels members to open and read their emails.

The club is currently doing its best to keep the Blue and Gold Army up to date with what’s going on, and communication to members should have been received over the last week or so.

If you’re not receiving anything, I’d suggest updating your contact details.

 

Eels forever!

 

Sixties

 

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Trouser Eel

Not sure I agree with your positive view on the Milford signing Craig. He’s been a lost soul for a long time.
BA and his systems have shown an ability to turn careers around, but at 27 years of age and being in beaten teams for so long I’m afraid Milf will be a depth recruitment at best. Which puts him on a hiding to nothing. Playing in reggies or promoted up when injury has taken better players out of the ranks.

!0 Year Member

I would not put my house on the reporting from Hoops…. Especially regarding parra. No way of Milf coming to us… There is just no need for him. Arron Woods though might be a chance, I can see where he would fit in…. With some form being regained.

jimbob

Yep big potential as the guy can’t tackle ffs

John Eel

Based on your comments about Milford playing in the centres, the question is that it is a demanding position defensively. His defence has been questioned often. Given that defence is an effort area there is surely an opportunity to get that right I don’t think that you could bring him into the halves. Not now anyway he is carrying too many demons for that at the moment. I have always thought that his best position is FB. Problem for him is that his current level of fitness would not allow him to play there. Playing as a 14 without shouldering… Read more »

Choppy

He’s played 5/8, which has a much higher defensive rate than centre. 5/8’s frequently rack up 20+ tackles. Centres can usually get away with much less (obviously depending on how teams play, whether through the middle or on the edges). I think playing centre, with a reduced defensive burden, could be good for him. The caveat being whether he’s adaptable enough to the decision making required of a centre. If he comes cheap enough, there’s no problems on kicking the tyres on a short term rental.

Jonno

We have Cartwright, Lussick, Smith, Roache as back ups. They hardly get any game time, Carty was supposed to be our X factor player, Milf is not what we need at the moment

Anonymous

I’d rather the Milf than Jake Arthur, if something went wrong with the frontline halves pairing. I don’t often see good in what Brad Arthur does, but this could be a master stroke!

john

Is there a future for him if the coach left?

BDon

Good read sixties. Cap management dictates that players like Milford be considered. They say you don’t lose talent, the Broncs certainly messed this guy around. The Moses beat up was poor. Qld actually turned up and removed time and space in truckloads. Moses’ 2 early errors never cost possession, he made no more and there was not one dodgy kick, his defence was a standout. NSW played Qld into the game with a substandard first half where Mitchell and Wighton alone boosted Qlds possession on at least 7 occasions. The ref did likewise. Turbo gave the ball away at the… Read more »

Anonymous

Spot on again!

Milo

Milford, initially i am not overly happy but am willing to give him a go if he signs for the right reasons. Defence and mindset for me, and I get it about Carty but he wanted to also come home (for family) i think.
Milford could be a v useful bench utility, but centre?? Sixties, the defence of Jenko was v good…..we will see.
If he was being picked up by Melbourne for example, we would definitely see him go ok…so hope he goes well if get him.

!0 Year Member

Here is BA interview from this morning. Send like he was not really keen on Milford. https://www.sen.com.au/programs/breakfast-with-vossy/

!0 Year Member

Great interview though. Love the BA….. He also gives an update on Fergo

Jonno

Thanks mate, just listened to the broadcast interesting stuff, cheers

John Eel

One thing that was interesting in that interview was BA saying that Dylan has been carrying an injury from early in the season.

The injury is now clear. I was not aware of this. Has been kept in house. I like that. Not the first time either I would say.

Jimmy Corbo

Hi Sixties, I hope you and loved ones are coping well in the current environment. Noting your comments on Moses in Origin and I harp back to our discussion last week on this very forum about commentators and ultimately the viewer at home dishing out the same comments every week with little regard to what actually transpired in the game. I completely agree with your summation of the Moses game, a little shaky early but was very good in the second half playing to the strengths of the team which is quick ball to the superstar outside backs and fullback.… Read more »

John Eel

I thought Mitch was overcalled a few times in the first half.

Sixties

Cheers Jimmy. The commentary narrative always feels either predetermined or an opinion bandwagon literally every match.
By the way Jimmy, I’m interested in your thoughts on Tigertown as I believe you had the opportunity to visit the Tigers sheds a couple of years back.

Jimmy Corbo

Great memory Sixties, my good mates brother played for the Tigers so I was lucky enough to get into their dressing room and also the Blues after an Origin win. For all us sports fanatics it really is a money cant buy experience and leaves you buzzing for a few days. The aforementioned connection also allowed me to be with Madge in a social setting a few times, he is a lovely bloke, very giving of his time as we bombarded him with questions, you really want to see him succeed. I must admit the Tigers became my “2nd favourite… Read more »

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