After the Monday and Wednesday field sessions, I’m already prepared to call this week the most intense of the current preseason.
The footy component has increased without diminishing the conditioning work. In fact, players such as Mitch Moses and Isaiah Papali’i look to be pushing themselves in the fitness stakes.
This report will contain my main takes, and what I consider to be some of the highlights from both days.
It becomes repetitious to reference Gutho’s conditioning work, but he has amazingly found another level when challenged by the likes of Jake Arthur on M runs and Bailey Simonsson over shorter intervals. If there’s one thing that’s been a constant over his career at Parra, it’s the King’s capacity to set standards.
When the footy started it was impossible to ignore Waqa Blake. It’s seems likely that he will continue his partnership with Haze Dunster on the left, and both looked sharp today.
Waqa scored an impressive individual try, slicing through the defence about 25 metres out and giving the cover defence no chance of catching him.
In another moment, Haze was given space to sprint down the wing before finding support. An infield kick in the same movement saw the chaser collect the ball for the try.
Anybody critical of the recruitment of Mitch Rein would not be so negative in their assessment of him after watching his preseason. You don’t play 207 NRL games at dummy half without having your share of talent and/or work ethic. Our recruit from the Titans demonstrates all of that experience on the training paddock and broke into open spaces in a great run today.
Ryan Matterson was on the try scorers list, cutting back infield to power his way over the line. Bailey Simonsson’s highlight came from a big tackle out on the wing which shut down a promising raid.
It was an early start on Australia Day, but the clock still hit the two hour mark in a relentless session. I’m not sure how many kilometres were covered but it must have been ranked near the high point of the preseason.
But if the players were gassed you wouldn’t have known it from their body language or the talk. In fact, I could have used the word relentless to describe the talk on the field as much as the running.
The fields were set up as a series of stations – conditioning, acceleration, defence, 4 on 3 grids, red zone footy and whole field opposed.
For a major part of the morning, the players would transition between full contact opposed on one field and one or more of the stations on the other field. This seemed to happen after a try or after a breakdown in the play.
The 4 on 3 grids can be very entertaining because the players can be given licence to be more adventurous in attack. For example Moses scored after putting on a massive goosey. As is the nature of this game/drill, the scorer and his team retain possession to run the other way. So Moses then doubled down by beating everyone in a run to the other line.
We also witnessed a Cartwright special, when he delivered a pass behind his back, and an extravagant dive from Ice to score in the corner.
I thought that Jake Arthur was quite dominant in the full field opposed. Partnering Moses, he seemed to be organising a lot of the play and took on the line when he opportunity presented. He chased hard on kicks, his own and Moses, and produced a pinpoint grubber kick into the in goal which was superbly grounded by Caleb Tohi.
With the contests in the middle producing some big collisions, it’s probably unfair to single any player out. However, the forward to catch the eye was Ky Rodwell. There was nothing spectacular about his play. Rather, it was his effort to win every tackle as either the attacker or the defender. He looks like he wants to win each contest.
The session concluded with defensive drills followed by numerous sets of Malcoms. The fellas will have a lighter day tomorrow and we shall then see what Friday will bring.
SG Ball Internal Trial
Those who read last weekend’s junior trial report would be aware that the S G Ball trial had to be abandoned due to the injury to a Panthers player (I believe he is well, which is brilliant news).
Given that the trials set down for the previous week had been cancelled due to Covid, there were quite a few Eels squad members who had zero game time in the last two scheduled trials.
The solution was to do as the Harold Matts squad had done previously, and that was to hold an internal trial. A public holiday session became the best option.
We caught about the first 25 minutes of play in what was a very physical and quite entertaining hit out.
The squad was to be finalised after today, so I’d like to offer my congratulations to all of the players who’ve completed the preseason. I wish you success with selection, and with your future footy endeavours.
In the opposed sessions, can you divulge on who is spending time on the edge and who is in the middle? In particular, I’m talking about Matterson and Niukore. I think they’re best suited to the mid and edge respectively.
Joe you are correct in assuming that there are aspects of training that I don’t report on. As for those positions, each has spent time there, and I agree about where they are suited. The other thing about training, is that players will fill in where they need to put bodies. The added advantage is that is like a drill for an injury during a game, when players need to shift to cover for an unfamiliar position.
Thanks for update ,just wondering is kylan Mafoa still with the club
He was named in the SG Ball extended squad for the preseason but I didn’t see him in the weekend trials. I’m not sure whether he was unavailable or no longer in the squad.
Any news on Maika Sivo’s recovery?
It’s a long rehab journey for him. I’ve seen him doing his work on the bike and a little light running but I can’t tell you anything about his progress. Typical rehab periods would suggest that he might miss the first half of the season, but that is still up to each individual circumstance. I’d be guided by whatever news the club puts out in regard to his progress.
You’d imagine 9mths would be average time frame. You sometimes see guys back after 6mths. Which would be start of season but that’s rare.
My tip would be early June. If fit however it would be interesting who BA chose.
Right now I see Duntser and Sorrenson and lock ins.
Gary, I agree with you.
When we consider Maika’s injuries and it was not a simple or single injury he sustained to the knee, and reading reports of the injury should he return to play too early and suffer a further injury to that knee, and possibly the other one as well, he really will be lucky to play again, especially the intensity that is seen in the NRL. When we lived in 7 hills back in the 70’s there was a player who lived two doors down from us, he played first grade with Wenty, I saw him mid week after he played at… Read more »
Thankfully things are much better for today’s athletes in terms of their rehab. A simple cartilage problem could bring about retirement back in the day. However, as you indicate Colin, these injuries are significant and cannot be rushed.
It’s good to see tries scored but what does that say about the quality of the defence? Is there any noticeable difference in D this year compared to last considering the game played against the Panthers featured absolutely watertight D, probably for the first time since BA has been coach. Btw great report as usual, much appreciated.
Gee you’ve missed a lot of games if thats first water tight defense you’ve seen
Agree. I recall during THAT season of 2016 the eels defence was incredibly good.
As I said above Grunta, I believe that our defensive issues arise against certain teams.
Agree on that too.
We struggle against South’s.
Thanks Glenn. I guess the reason that all clubs play trials at the end of the preseason is to get a more accurate picture of their team. What’s interesting about contact games at training is that the defence knows the calls, knows opposition players habits or idiosyncrasies. They manufacture fatigue because most times the opposed work is over shorter periods or in contrived situations, rather than with the flow of the game. Eventually they play close to a full game in their opposed, but it’s not like the demands in an NRL game. And of course different teams ask different… Read more »
Sixties, ive watched this one closely and tend to agree that certain teams trouble us, just throw it wide with good structure, hands/execution and speed and we’re really suss. The Storm woke to this 2 or3 seasons back and started doing it from their own half. I guess the issue for me is that it is the best teams, the ones you have to equal and better to be genuine top 4. I can recall the Warriors also troubling us but their execution let us off the hook. One thing was clearly apparent to me last year, when Niukore played… Read more »
Flagging so much I forgot my name
BDon, I was concerned about our systems and then I think there was a minor tweak (I can’t be sure as the team was up north) plus the addition of Penisini and we looked so different defensively.
Our right edge defense was strong at the start and end of the season when Matto didn’t play there. He gets sucked too far infield and leaves too much real estate for his outside men to defend. I would love to see him starting at lock with Brown coming off the bench.
You’ll also find Lane has never played on an edge that has continually leaked tries. Hoping BA goes with Lane and Nuikore in the second row
Storm Woke up 2/3 seasons back , might want to check results ??
We definitely had their measure last season
When the Storm put 64 points on us in 19 you’ll find most of their tries were scored in the middle. They were just too good for us right across the park.
The last 2 seasons too many have been scored on the right edge
They set the tone for a 36-24 semi final win with a shift to the right early in the tackle count, early in the game from their own 20. Fergo had to choose from 3, then caught cold in AddoCarr’s slipstream.
Thnaks Sixties, I really look forward to these reports and when they don’t appear for a few days I start to commiserate with addicts needing their next fix.
How is Dylan Brown going in attack?
Could you please let me know what time the Friday session starts. Thanks
The session was over at the time you sent this Anon. If you’d like to watch next Friday, send me a message on either Twitter or Instagram. If you don’t have those platforms then please register your email address when you reply and I can email you.
Could you please send me the times for Friday 4th training sessions. Thanks