A selection headache is looming for Parramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur.
Emerging half Jake Arthur, the son of the coach, is currently one of the stars of this preseason. Make no mistake, in terms of his consistency and his recent dominance of opposed sessions, JA is demanding inclusion in the top 17 for the season opener against the Titans.
As I left Kellyville after this morning’s session, I couldn’t think of one reason for BA to not select his son. His surname shouldn’t be an obstacle, despite what some critics might think of coaches selecting their offspring.
And yet, circumstances might result in “Snake” missing out.
Incumbent halves Mitch Moses and Dylan Brown will retain their places. Neither warrants Brad Arthur leaving them out. In fact, I’m tipping both to have huge seasons.
Once again Jake was the star of this morning’s opposed work and he is literally finding a new level each week. Today, in addition to his organisational skills, Jake was instrumental in creating opportunities out of playing eyes up football.
Two big plays stood out.
In the first instance, after taking the ball at first receiver, JA had the defence pack-pedalling as he ran the attack to his left. A precision pass in traffic put Ray Stone into space. He then linked with Samuel Loizou, before the young centre found Jake backing up through the middle. A 30 metre sprint to the line completed this movement.
Jake then set the left side alight once more. Again he got the defence on the back foot, but this time Mitch Moses had looped around to receive the ball from Jake down the short side on the left. Moses’ cut out pass to Naiduki sent him on a 30 metre sprint before he took the Gutherson tackle.
To his credit, Naiduki didn’t try to push the pass. Instead, he got a quick play the ball and the play moved quickly to the right edge for Will Penisini to cross for the try.
Is it possible for Jake Arthur to win a bench spot?
Jake continues to add kilos to his frame and I suspect that within the next couple of years his playing weight will be somewhere in the 90s. Will that open up other positions for him to cover? Potentially, yes.
But that doesn’t solve the situation right now for how the player at the forefront of the preseason can force his way into the team.
Furthermore, there are other players staking their claim for a bench spot.
Makahesi Makatoa was another to have an impressive session. His charges into the defence were mixed with some enterprising ball play. Maka has a terrific motor and his game is marked by the capacity to take multiple hit ups in the same set.
Mitch Rein has also caught the eye across the entire preseason. He’s one of the fittest in the group and offers BA the option of selecting a 200+ game dummy half on the bench.
The bench was already going to be challenging to select.
Throw in these three as genuine contenders and BA’s bound to changing his mind numerous times before round 1. He’s probably fortunate that there are two NRL trials scheduled for this season.
I’ll finish this report with a brief overview of the rest of the morning’s session.
The focus was on the two sides of the kicking coin – the chase and the return. To state the obvious, the chase aims to keep the return pinned close to the line. The objective of the kick return is to get the team on the front foot.
Haze Dunster looked incredibly confident. He attacked the ball and was difficult for the chasers to bring down. I also liked the hit ups of young backs, Sam Loizou and Sean Russell.
BA scaffolded the session, starting with unopposed tackle sets, then staging repeated kick chase and kick return drills, before going through to the contact opposed game.
Trent Elkin kept the conditioning turning over with sets of Malcolms as well as running mechanics over sprint distances. However, as we move closer to the first trial, that footy component continues to be on the increase at every session.
I’ve got no problem with that!
On behalf of The Cumberland Throw, I’d like to extend my best wishes to Caleb Tohi.
Caleb has signed a deal with the Raiders which provides him with an opportunity which was too good to pass up.
I’ll still be cheering for Caleb, just not when he’s playing the Eels!
Good report sixties, & likely set some tongues waging with Jacob and the other younger players being mentioned in a high capacity degree. The upcoming trials are going to be very very interesting, given the number of young backs who are showing their values faster than many thought would be the case. Your mentioning of Haze and his reading of the game and bot attack, defense and support play, shows he is and will be a valuable lock in on the wing. I wonder how a lot of eels supporters will go banana’s at the prospect of Jacob getting a… Read more »
Colin, I believe that the trials will be televised.
As for any critics that claim favouritism, imagine being the standout at preseason and not being selected because that is probably the scenario that Jake faces.
I understand where you are coming from 60’s and your points as stated should not be ignored. Notwithstanding he is no different to any other young player knocking on the door when the incumbents are tried and true. I was critical of the extra games JA played last year and especially his performance when he came back to Reggies. This said he has every right to improve exponentially. I would prefer to see him dominate in the Reggies to start with before being called into the 17 other than for injury. I believe Jordan Rankin had a huge involvement last… Read more »
Poppa, my expectation is that Jake deserves to be in the NRL, but the current incumbents in his positions also deserve to be there. Hence the dilemma which probably means he will start in reggies. But that doesn’t take away from his form in the preseason. I’ve watched Jake play since he was 14, and the development in his game over the last 18 months has surprised me. Not because I didn’t think he could play like this, but rather how quickly he is improving his game. I’m on the outside looking in, but I reckon that any of the… Read more »
My reckoning is Jake would be training like his life depended on it , whereas Dylan and Moses are keeping just a smidgen of powder dry knowing that A) it’s a long season and B) they are locks, barring injuries, for the first rounds. I think Jake’s potential to make the bench is or will hinge on selection strategy. I think there are three ways to look at this. Do you pick the 17 best players in the squad regardless of position and then assign what position they play as one famous coach was apt to do, or similarly do… Read more »
Matt, the thing about Jake is that his training is so composed. If he makes an error during a drill, as all players do, you wouldn’t know it. He just gets on with it. Some players might swear or shake their heads. He shows nothing.
i reckon that he could play a bench role similar to the third playmaker that some teams are using. But it depends on how BA wants to structure his bench.
Sixties I’m a fan and if Jake has that capacity which gus gould pointed out in Jimmy Malone, that is to have no memory for recent mistakes then I’m even more impressed. Thanks for your response.
It’s definitely a trait Matt. Cheers
Sixties I spoke to one of the current players about Jake and he was very impressed with his progress.
Based on that I am not surprised at all about what you are saying.
Cheers for letting me know John. I haven’t had the chance to speak with any players for validation, but given his form I couldn’t see any way that they wouldn’t be impressed.
Mr Sixties. I just wonder how much influence Joey Johns had with JA. If he was a part of that special training he might well have soaked it all up.
He needs another year before any real assessment can be made but he seems to be a real worker at his game.
Last year toward the end I thought he lost confidence but having a break would allow him to think about what happened and how.
Clearly he is better for it.
He was very much part of Joey’s group, both in the pathways group before he joined the NRL squad and then in the senior spine group. I actually believe that he gained the most out of any of the players.
Ferguson destroyed the backlines confidence in a period where ja played , people wanted blake and others gone , check out his 2nd stint v roosters and outstanding last season game v panthers , 60,s has the stats !!
There was a different Waqa out there as soon as he changed sides!
Zero 58 u might be onto something there. I would add that growing up at his dads feet he has had a 1st class education to the whole gambit of what it takes to be a complete footballer. His mum must be pretty special as well.
I reckon you’ve nailed it
I respect what you say, I have seen many young athletes improve exponentially and then also the opposite. More importantly you have the better right to make observations as well with what you see and observe close at hand, that is why I feel you get so much support on this forum, because we respect your opinions. I don’t know how many times I have asked your opinion on a player, knowing you see that player a lot more than me. Never be disappointed in backing a player that way, it is always judgement at the time. I was dissappointed… Read more »
Cheers Poppa. Stefano was the player I was disappointed in losing. Like Haze, he developed into a first grader a bit later than the likes of Dylan. We were patient with Haze, but Tigers got under our guard with Stefano. That SG Ball class of 2016/2017 produced its share of NRL players – Parry, Dunster, Kaufusi, Utoikamanu, Brown, Doorey. That was a good strike rate over those years and that group, and there were others that I thought would go on but they didn’t. That’s the nature of talent identification. There’s other factors – commitment, drive, work ethic, even luck.… Read more »
Very well summed up sixties. In certain ways the loss of the players at end of this year, may well be a move that has more going for the game than if we were keeping them all.
I am sorry to see Stone leave though.
We have such a stable group going into 2022. That loss of players for 23 opens up opportunities. That’s also a positive for mine.
Great reporting as usual Sixies! Maybe Jake can play hooker! For some reason I’ve gone off our hooker we have been using in previous years! 🤷🏻♂️
You won’t let that rest will you Michael 😁😁😁
Yeah I will in 2023! 😁
Jake was just starting to really find his feet in Cup last year when the season was cancelled, I believe if the competition had finished proper he would’ve been one of the stand out performers. With another pre-season under his belt he should hit the ground running. Can’t wait to watch him and his peers continuing their rise through the ranks
Ham, without any doubt Jake and his team were warming into the run to the finals, and Jake was instrumental. People criticise his defence but in the top grade he has an NRL tackle efficiency of 87% and in NSWRL it’s over 89%! He also had significant moments with his defence. In one game it gave them the win when he chased a length of the field break by a winger and kept the try in the corner. The Eels won by 2. When their comp was cancelled due to Covid they were due to play the Panthers in a… Read more »
When I watched Jake I saw a composed kid who had good vision and knew which way to go and what was on. Someone who could follow a game plan.
The problem he had was he looked like he was in slow motion. Everything he did was just to slow. That was my criticism of him and the area he needed to improve. He is just a kid and showed good signs. I imagine he will be better this season and closer to first grade ready in 2023.
What he’s very good at doing is controlling the pace of the game. He’s becoming very adept at is picking the moments to really get the defence back pedalling and because he is a ball player, they tend to hang off him. He then accelerates very quickly and either gets through the line or digs into the line finds a support runner. The other aspect showing up at training is that his support runners are reading his plays and this helps to create those opportunities.
Would a 15min stint off the bench help his progression more then 80mins in NSW cup? He hasn’t played a lot of footy in the last 12mths. I feel he would be better getting 80mins in NSW cup and called on if an injury to Moses or Brown.
But I am happy to here that he is looking good.
I totally get that rationale Gary. It’s why coaches will drop a bench player back a grade to build up game time.
Sixties you talk about support players getting better at reading his plays.
That is the reason that great players look better every time they go up a grade.
Having said all that I am not saying JA is a great player yet just trying to explain the reason he is improving.
Well noted John. There are players who play to the level that they are in, or even get much better with every climb.
No one questions his ability to make tackles his reading of oppression structures and shapes let him down
The bunnies game they saw that weakness and exploited it.
He needs to fix that or the online mob will lynch him.
Personally I see potential I don’t see an elite Half I see a Chad Townsend Jeff Robson type of solid but nothing special half that been said in the right team that can be the perfect fit
I am going to disagree. He reads the play exceptionally well and he’s been igniting the attack at training. I know it’s the training track, but anyone who watches some of the opposed knows how brutal some sessions can be. I also gave everyone the heads up about Ice last year which was based on how he was tearing up opposed sessions.
All that said, Jake’s eventual top 13 spot might lie in another position because I think he’s going to get a bit bigger
Maybe A Wade Graham like type of crafty edge forward would need a bit more size but those type of players are gold
That’s my thinking too
Where does he play though if he’s on the bench? Does Dylan shift into the middle? I hope this doesn’t point towards Dylan leaving at end of year. JA might have to bide his time. I can’t see him leaving.
I don’t have an answer Soren. As I said I expect Dylan and Mitch to have big years. But Jake has been terrific and I have to report what I’m seeing. And as John Eel can attest above, he’s been told by one of the squad about how impressed he is by Jake.
Rein looks like he has gone beast mode. Any chance he might get the jump on Reed?
Reed still gets the start but don’t be concerned if Mitch Rein needs to be selected.
Ive no concerns about Rein, He has often been signed as a backup but still manages to play a lot of first grade. Not always due to injury.
I doubt Rein has started too many seasons as his club’s first choice dummy half – if any season at all. Yet, he has played over 200 games. The thing is, when he gets his shot, he usually hangs onto it.
Not for me if I was BA Reed goes to Rot in in Reggie’s
You and Michael are very unforgiving. 😁
Could you provide an explanation of what the Malcolms are? They feature prominently in the reports however I for one am not sure what they are.
Hi Jimmy. They are given different names by different trainers, but “Malcolms” was the name that former trainer Adrian Jimenez used. , naming them after the coach that really loved to use them, Malcolm Reilly. It’s essentially running short intervals and hitting the ground at every turn. You might hear them called up downs or other names. Eg running 10 or 20 metres, hit the ground, get up run back, hit the ground etc. sometimes they might stay on the ground and wait for a whistle. Different trainers have different methods, but basically the effort is akin to the demands… Read more »
Basically the team run together in a line across the field a set distance of 10m or 20m or 30m, then at the end drop to their stomachs and then push straight back up and turn 180 degrees in readiness for the next distance. Sometimes this is whistle controlled by the trainer, sometimes there may be a set of distances they need to complete eg 10m Malcolm turn 20m Malcolm turn 30m Malcolm turn 20m Malcolm turn etc. Named after Mal Reilly he smashed players with them. They are usually done under duress and players are expected to be in… Read more »
That’s a better explanation than I gave Parrathruandthru. I should have deferred to you in the first instance.
beat me by 5 seconds
Yes spot on by both of you. It’s funny as we had a coach in the mid-late 80’s our H School maths teacher. We had Uni Shield and Commonwealth Bank cup on He would train us in the January break before school started and actually gave us training schedules, and we did these. Remember Fartleks? He gave us them to do, basically jog to a power pole and then sprint to next, and then jog and then sprint for about 1 – 2 kms. We would sprint 10 m, then backpedal to the try line and increase by 10 metres… Read more »
Milo, I used to do those Fartleks to get back home when I slept through on the train late at night.
Unintentional I suspect!
Were you a weapon on the field in those days mate?
I’m just managing to catch up on all the 2022 training reports. Great stuff as usual Sixties. I haven’t seen any mention of the presence of Ennis or Mary McGregor. Have they been present at all so far in 2022 at field sessions?
Anthony, I have mentioned them in some of the earliest training reports and we were able to speak to Mary at one. Great bloke. Ennis has been at a few sessions and at one of those in December we watched him working with a player (not one of the spine) on their short passing game. Unfortunately, the Covid scenario this new year means that we aren’t able to watch from a place that we used to observe from, and that means we are less likely to see and hear the interactions with Ennis and Mary that we used to see.… Read more »
Interesting Sixties, I like reading about JA, but to me where does he fit in to the 17? What position? And he doesn’t seem to be big enough yet for a backrow spot?
To me he will come on and hope the next two years proves this as he is v fit and seems to have shown a lot with skill. How is his defence going Sixties?
Great to read about Rein, i have liked him since his Saints time.
Poor Caleb, he will need to have a plan B….and watch out for the overhead transparency machine…
His defence has never concerned me Milo. He’s not in Dylan’s class – there isn’t a half who is, but he’s near the top stats wise for a half – 87% efficiency NRL and 89% NSW Cup. If you think of where halves defend and how a team’s attack looks to isolate a half, that is very good.
As for Caleb, he’s a good bloke from a top family. They are very interactive in the local community. I’ll support him – except when he plays Parra.
Good stats for Jake, and to me if hes working his bum off he cans ok well. Hope he can.
👍 👍 👍
Jake showed enough promise in attack I don’t think any one can doubt that
It’s those glaringly bad defensive issues and if they can be fixed that will determine his future.
Offside, you are honestly barking up the wrong tree in believing he has defensive issues. And he was an 18 year old in his first NRL games in the halves. He will have learnt from the very few mistakes he made. He got isolated in a try against the Raiders and I guarantee that virtually every half would have missed that in a one on one, yet most people think that tackle defines his defence. It doesn’t.
He can tackle he wouldn’t make this far if he couldn’t. He made misreads in each of his early games admittedly he had a few liabilities arpund him in fergo those errors are forgivable because of his age. Moses had a similar issue could make the tackle but made defensive errors. It’s how he improves that matters I hope he turns good I do see a footballer there I don’t see a star but I see someone who could add value. I remember speaking to a NRL coach about talent identification years ago he said in most cases you see… Read more »
All fair points and insights Offside. And thank you for sharing that conversation. It is something that we see often in following Junior Reps. It makes me wary about the players who are big for their age. They can dominate, but you start to see that levelling out around the Flegg Cup.
Hi Sixties – thanks for your report. Always interested in your observations.
I’m coming down from the Sunshine Coast to Sydney with some family and mates for t
he home game v Dragons on Sunday 3/4.
We are all parrafanatics and I was wanting to know if the Captains run the day before the game is open to the public?
It depends on the location. If it’s at CommBank Stadium it is closed to the public. If it’s at Kellyville, that’s an open park.