The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training – January 21, 2022: Room For Improvement

Friday is probably my favourite training day. The players throw on the jerseys and NRL refs are often in attendance. That’s because the end of the week usually means a full contact opposed session.

Readers will probably note the absence of training reports over the last few days. I was present at Kellyville on Monday but decided against writing up a mostly conditioning session. Wednesday morning’s work didn’t take place at the expected time and with the rain falling as it was, I didn’t stick around.

It was very close to a full squad out on the field this morning with almost all of the big guns present. The players lined up in either the Blue home jersey or the White kit, and there were enough present to have 13 on 13 with some interchange available for each team.

As it turned out, the full contact “game” lasted for approximately 25 minutes. The remainder of the session was divided between opposed drills within the quarter line and the obligatory conditioning.

From a spine perspective, it was Moses, Arthur, Rein and Perham facing off against Rankin, Brown, Hands/Yates, and Gutherson.

Mahoney was present and involved in conditioning work but took no part in the contact.

Very early in the “contest” it was clear that there was going to be heavy collisions in the forwards. The packs in both teams ripped in and it was terrific to see a player like Reg making his presence felt.

The Highlights

Solomone Naiduki

Wiremu Greig was a handful for the Blue defence in many carrids

* Gutho was particularly vociferous, demanding better efforts in defence, offering praise when deserved.

* Solomone Naiduki shut down one attacking raid close to the line with a massive hit

* Jake Arthur made a long break after cracking the White defence about 40 metres out from his own line

* Will Penisini beat multiple defenders in an elusive 20 metre run through traffic


Opposed Drills

The next period of opposed saw each team given possession under different scenarios in the red zone. Whether it be from a scrum or a penalty, the attacking team would receive a set to score from close range, whilst their opponents would have to deal with the defensive pressure.

Of course, these drills are always conducted under fatigue, so there was no shortage of running and up/downs before the footy took place.


Outside of some praiseworthy defence, there were impressive moments in possession that led to tries.

Cartwright enjoyed another day out in attack, and he placed the exclamation point on the morning by breaking the line then producing a “Gidley-esque” pass to his support runner for the try.

Waqa Blake then had two special plays in quick succession. Firstly he demonstrated a perfect AFL catch technique in bringing down a kick in the in goal. This was followed up by an individual try as he sliced through the defence and raced over the line.

Finally Jake Arthur engineered a four pointer for Makahesi Makatoa off a scrum with a perfectly timed pass that put Maka into a gap.


The Negatives

The big negative this morning was the field that was used. With the opposed sessions located on the field furthest from the viewing hill, it was challenging to identify the workhorses.

Giving credit to big hits or impressive attacking plays was much easier than finding those deserving of praise for their defensive efforts. When closer to the play we can more easily identify right or wrong movement in the line, as well as the all important communication.

Outside of that, there was too much dropped ball for my liking. This was mostly the consequence of some poor passing rather than the fault of the receiver.

The positive is that you don’t want perfection in a session. Errors provide focal points for improvement, be they individual or team related.

Next week we move into the final full week of January training. After that we enter the trial matches month.

Are you ready for footy?

How soon is now?

Eels forever!



(Images courtesy of Bocko – Eels media)

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27 thoughts on “Eels Pre-Season Training – January 21, 2022: Room For Improvement

  1. Colin Hussey

    Short but a degree of sweetness in the report sixties.

    I am liking what I read especially with the unfamiliar players such as Solomone Naiduki, he looks to be a player of the future, given the numbers who are, and then those who could be leaving end of this season, I am happy to see the new faces and mentions in the training.

    Early days but, it means time to fit in for the future of the players, of the future.

    1. sixties Post author

      Naiduki might get an opportunity at some stage Colin, but he needs to take advantage of any opportunity in reggies and keep progressing.

  2. Anonymous

    Love it Sixties and I don’t only mean the Smiths reference again……no need to Panic!!
    How good does Carty look? He looks trim and strong. Could we see Naiduki in the top team for trials? He does look a strong looking player.

    1. sixties Post author

      Hey mate. Carty is looking good. As for Naiduki, I’d say Haze and Simonsson have the jump on him and probably Sean Russell might be rated above him. I reckon all of the squad will get an opportunity at some stage in one of the trials.

  3. Matt Sweeney

    Hi Sixties, glad your ok , I’ve been checking in for your reports .
    Without putting the mockar on things I want to pay credit to the training staff, for a few years now we hear about these tuff pre season sessions and it’s usually all done without much injury. Other clubs not so lucky. I was hoping u could make comparisons size and presence wise on carty v matto and maika v naiduki. Thx as ever for your efforts and yes season can’t start quick enuff

    1. sixties Post author

      Thanks Matthew. You are right to praise the staff for the Eels physical condition. As for Matto and Carty, different builds yet almost similar height/weight at 6 ft 4 and 107-109kg.
      i don’t know that I could give an accurate comparison between Maika and Solomone, as Solomone looks much bigger than previous years and I haven’t seen him stand alongside Sivo recently.

  4. John Eel

    Enjoyed the read Sixties have been waiting for it all week.

    Last season at Bankwest I seen Naiduki put one of those hits on in reserve grade. I don’t know how the tackled player got up. I thought last season he was better in defence. He has improved his technique and now gets good hit and stick.

    Waqa played AFL when he was living in Rockingham in WA. The AFL catch that he does where he catches the ball with his arms above his head works in AFL because they don’t have knock on’s.

    However having said that if he takes one over the line and scores, that is good. When you think about it the defender is not going to get as high because he can’t afford a knock on and Waqa gets very high.

    Enjoyed the read.

  5. Anonymous

    Sixties, excuse my ignorance but who is the gentleman of African descent in the picture that links this post? He looks like he is in the Jason Saab mould of a lanky fast winger. Would this be correct?

    1. sixties Post author

      It’s Matt Komolafe. He’s a winger who came through in the same junior rep teams as Jake, Sean, Sam and Will etc. Matt has an unusual running style that makes him deceptively fast. Throughout junior reps he had an uncanny knack of being able to score tries when it looked like the defence had him covered. Like his colleagues, this is his second preseason.

      1. Matt Sweeney

        I remember last year’s trial against Saints he turned and chased a runaway and mowed him down and yes he looked deceptively quick.

  6. Parramad

    Thanks again for your words of wisdom in these Dark days of NO Footy..!!! Can’t wait for pre season to Start & young Bailey Simonsson looking the goods..!!?? Bring on the Titans….

    1. sixties Post author

      Don, Rankin was late to join preseason (just before Christmas) but was immediately at the front of conditioning work. He is very professional which probably accounts for his new and additional mentoring role working in the Eels pathways.

  7. EELectric Podcast

    Awesome work mate. As you know myself and Fletch are big fans of MAKATOA and GREIG so it’s always good to see them mentioned in the reports

    1. Matt Sweeney

      The recent training pic on the parra site of Hollis shows that he has filled out a lot, let’s hope he can now come on. If all these forwards come on then we will have close to 3 teams of forwards who could play nrl. I count about 16

  8. Mr controversy aka rev

    I think Solomon might be in front of Russell imo. Carty looks ready for a big year as does grieg his big strong n could come off the bench. Pensini is a player to look out for this yr. I personally think his in for a year to remember.

  9. John Eel

    FoxSport is reporting that Nathaniel Roache is returning to the Eels as soon as he is over his injury concerns

    I assumed that the Eels had let him go?

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