The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training – January 28, 2022: Dylan Brown

Picture this.

It’s a deep kick off, the ball is passed to a charging RCG, and the big man puts the pedal to the metal as he collides with four defenders.


They didn’t miss him, nor did he allow them to drive him backwards. In fact within the same set Reg lined up for a second carry.

This was the opening to today’s opposed session.

It was almost a full dress-rehearsal as for around 35 minutes the Blue team took on the White team, under match conditions, including conversions.

NRL referees were in control and I’m pleased to report that the Eels won the penalty count!

At the end of the “clash” both teams had crossed for two tries (sorry, I didn’t keep track of the goals) and the entertainment factor was high.

Waqa Blake continued his strong preseason with outstanding moments in both attack and defence. His combination with Haze Dunster led to a number of line breaks, with the athletic Blake also producing an evasive 25 metre solo run through centre field which left a number of defenders in his wake.

A brief respite

However, it was the capacity of Dunster and Blake to shut down opposition attacking raids which most impressed. I couldn’t hear the talk, but I was encouraged by the way they functioned as a defensive unit.

Jake Arthur again produced another impressive performance. In addition to his organisational skills, the 19 year old half scored a try reminiscent of his debut four pointer against the Warriors. After slicing through the edge of the ruck, he appeared to be tackled just short. But those long limbs proved handy as he stretched his right arm out to plant the ball. JA is proving hard to ignore.

Not to be outdone, Moses provided his own highlight, delivering a superb pass to put Penisini through the defence, and the young centre did the rest in a sprint to the goal line. The Blue team’s halves were on fire and the early lead was established.

With Moses and Arthur putting their mark on the contest, it was time for Dylan Brown to have a “hold my beer” moment.

A powerful carry and quick play the ball from Ogden put his White team on the front foot, as they took the ball from deep in their half to the red zone. When the pill landed in Dylan’s hands, a step off the left foot, then a burst of acceleration saw him cross for the first of his tries.

Unfortunately my vantage point did not allow me to identify the principal players in the next try to the White team. The ball was shifted two passes to the right of the posts before finding the decisive ball runner who scored the try.

That concluded the match, but the session was far from over.

Running time with Ice up front

The rest of the morning was split between M runs (and N runs), red zone attack/defence and Malcolms.

Each team was given an extended period in the red zone to either attack, or defend, the line.

The fatigue was established by running Malcolms between the alternating of the roles.

Obviously there were defensive moments to praise, but the repeated possessions saw each side ask plenty of questions in attack.

Isaiah Papali’i really impressed in this drill (as he did with the M runs). He set up a try for Sean Russell and threatened the line with every carry. Ice’s fitness is coming to the fore and I expect him to have another terrific year.

Others to cross the stripe included Junior, Haze and Matto. Dylan Brown scored another sharp try, and Jake Arthur set up a try for a player that we couldn’t identify due to our obstructed view.

Matt Komolafe rekindled memories of his capacity to get across the line back in the pathways when he crossed in the corner after it looked like the defence had him covered.

Matt had the knack of converting half chances into tries in Junior Reps and it will be to the Eels benefit if he can do similar in the senior grades.

Dylan Brown

I thought that this was Dylan’s best session of the preseason.

Parra’s star five-eighth is widely acknowledged as the premier defensive number 6 in the NRL, but critics are quick to highlight his attacking stats as evidence of him being under pressure to step up in 2022.

Personally, I regard a try saved as just as important as a try scored. At 21 years of age, Dylbags is critical to the Eels defence.

It all comes down to what BA wants from him.

In what was a typically physical opposed session Friday, Dylan Brown was one of my standouts – in attack.

He wasn’t on his own, and there is possibly more that BA is expecting of him from a ball playing perspective, but Dylbags provided a reminder of just how dangerous he can be when carrying the ball.

Eels forever!



(All images courtesy of Bocko, Eels media)

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27 thoughts on “Eels Pre-Season Training – January 28, 2022: Dylan Brown

    1. sixties Post author

      Neither can I mate. There were about 9 or 10 people watching yesterday. The sound when Reg took that first hit up into collision, and our reaction, really had me hanging out for the season to start.

  1. Colin Hussey

    Good report sixties as per normal.

    While the report seemed to have a good balance of experience and learning by the the not so experienced players.

    I do assume that the players are showing both their own skills and abilities, but I also wonder if the new line of coaching and advising for both the less experienced players but little doubt those line ups seem to have an extra zip to them at this point of the year.

    If the moves continue on the up, its going to be a pretty fair year me thinks.

    1. sixties Post author

      Cheers Colin. I am watching from more of a distance than usual due to Covid concerns so I feel like I’m not getting to see a close enough view of some of the contests in the middle. So I’m mostly seeing the results of the unit rather than the individual if that makes sense, mostly in defence. Hence I feel like I’m short changing the hard slog of many of the forwards.

  2. Milo

    Thanks sixties, it does seem things are hotting up; think we will be ok this year and just need to show some patience with ball and trust in defence.,
    We seem to have good depth across the squad. Fullback ? Depth?
    Half would be interesting is we lost Jake as well as Mitch or DB.

    1. HamSammich

      Some first grade teams don’t have a half, I don’t think you can denigrate a team for not having someone capable in that #4 half spot.

    2. sixties Post author

      Haze Perham has been in that role against Gutho and to be fair has done well without earning too many highlight mentions. Rankin is back in the halves and Hands is a utility who can play half. I guess that also covers Gutho and Loizou has also been at 5/8 through pathways.

    1. sixties Post author

      Cheers Anon. In my observations, the quality of the fringe players helps to drive that standard of opposed work. And even in the conditioning, the established stars don’t want to have the fringe players setting standards above theirs.

  3. DDay

    Great to hear Haze and Waqa are having such a good pre-season. Waqa had a slow to 21 but really stepped in the 2nd half of the season – here’s hoping he continues his aggressive approach into 22. Will be interesting to see the RHS combination likely Penisini/Simonsson but not doubt BA is trying a few combinations. Big focus on defence under fatigue can only help close out those close games

    1. sixties Post author

      I am extremely impressed by the Waqa and Haze combo DDay, and both are doing their jobs as individuals.

  4. Grunta

    Dylbags and attack in the one sentence?
    I really hope that BA and Dylan are onto this. His attack stats read how they do for a reason…time to get real.

    1. sixties Post author

      What I think would be more valid would be the tries that are scored on the side of the field that Dyl is dominant. That’s not as easy as it sounds as they swapped during the year and there’s also the issue of the halves linking on the same side. But if the stats are relatively similar on each side of the field then that might suggest that he’s meeting his KPIs. I know there are factors such as the other players alongside each half but again it’s whether the role is being completed as the coach asks. We still have to accept that our halves are completely different in their play and each are in different stages of their careers as well as having different roles in the team.
      It would also be interesting to throw in the defence stats for the side of the field and see how that ledger looks

      1. Poppa

        Could not agree more with what you said 60’s, people get lost on try assist stats, but they don’t tell a story. Many time’s last year Dyllan was the second pass to the try assist and I would say doing exactly what the coach asked.
        You can watch a game and if you know anything about RL you can see Dyllan is no “dill” in attack.
        I am not the slightest worried about his attack, his organisational skil and kicking game is his main area to develop and he will of course, because he is a natural footballer!
        In some ways I am glad the media and some of our dopes that read stats rather than the game are saying what they are, could save us a couple hundred thousand on his retention cost.
        Dyllan will become an X factor player, just hope it is with us and not some wealthy team that looks past statistics.

        1. sixties Post author

          Cheers Poppa. Having watched Dylan since he was in Harold Matts, I have never wavered from my belief that he was always going to be an elite NRL player

        2. Mick

          Spot on Poppa. Stats can be misleading, look at Adam Reynolds, not even in the top 50 for try assists last season, would Walker have got so many try assists without Reynolds, I doubt it.

          1. Grunta

            He’s a half, not a lock.
            He’s a talented footballer and can set up a play. He’s been showing potential all of his career including several at the highest level. No matta how people sugar coat it, he needs to lift massively in attack both for the team and to lessen the focus on Moses at the end of each set. He can definitely do it, but will he?
            I don’t read or take notice of stats, I see what I, and many others see.

  5. Anonymous

    What’s your thoughts on HANDS? Also what size is he. Bigger then Mahoney? He looks sharp running from dummy half.
    If Mahoney isn’t fit is he a chance to debut or Rein has that spot?

    1. sixties Post author

      Anon, I like the look of what I’ve seen of Hands so far, but I also want to see more of him in a match. He’s very fast, taller than Reed. I’d think Mitch Rein will feature. He’s had a very good preseason.

      1. Gary

        Its Gary. For some reason didn’t come thru.
        I have a good feeling about this kid for some reason. I know Penrith fans wanted him in before Kenny

  6. Offside

    Dylan is a enigma
    What he offers in defence is beyond important you only have to see how much Arthur struggled in defence.
    The flip side is how little Dylan adds to the attack its easy to forget he is young but he has had enough games to that he needs to be showing more not necessarily trie assists but more general Halves play and ball playing it often looks like he’s a Daniel Wagon type 6 run first and Tackle leave the rest to the others we need more from him this year

    1. sixties Post author

      Just one thing Offside. Jake Arthur has an 87% tackle efficiency. That puts him ahead of most halves. He was labelled as having defensive issues because of one miss against the Raiders but I can assure you that his technique and attitude in defence are extremely good, especially for an 18 year old.
      Dylan’s tackle efficiency for a half puts him in a category on his own. It’s almost 96%!!! Statistically he’s an outlier, no half comes close.

    2. Big Derek

      Sometimes wonder whether some comments are made without really watching the game. Some posters jumped all over Jake due to one missed tackle, suggest more comments could be directed at Reed when he was defending close to our own line, plenty of ammunition there.

      Jake gets a lot of undeserved criticism due to his surname, not a lot different to Nathan Cleary in his first season, playing in the halves at 18 is more than difficult and confident we will see more than decent career and improvement from JA over then next 2 seasons as we see physical development and maturity.

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