A question for BA.
Can you find a place for Ofahiki Ogden in the top 17?
Maybe I should word that another way. How can you not select Ogden in the top grade?
After recent sessions it’s surely impossible to deny Ogden’s claim to be upgraded. He’s fit, he absolutely tears into the collision, and his post contact metres continue to grow.
I have my theory on why he is beginning to shine
Since arriving at the Eels, I reckon he’s stripped multiple kilos from his frame to the point where he looks to be a different body shape. And he just seems very awkward to tackle.
In a highly entertaining and extremely physical opposed session, Ogden was one of my standouts.
It shouldn’t surprise any regular to these reports that I’ll also be mentioning Waqa Blake as another to shine. Watching the tall centre in full flight is a majestic sight.
Once again, Friday provided the week’s best highlights.
It was close to full match conditions over a riveting extended period of footy. The coaches remained on the sideline and the referee signalled time off after breaks in play, including conversions.
Just on the kicks, Moses kicked four from five, including two from out wide, with Rankin kicking two from two.
The Blue team were first to cross with a close range try under the posts. It happened fairly quickly and unfortunately I couldn’t see who threw the pass or who scored.
However, it wasn’t long before the White team began to assert their authority.
Isaiah Papali’i steamed onto a pass to burst into the open. A step off the right foot gave Perham no chance of bringing him down and Ice planted the ball behind the posts. It was an absolutely slashing run, I suspect off a Moses pass.
Cue Waqa Blake.
As if he hadn’t created enough of an impression during this preseason, his defence made a massive statement throughout the opposed. He was a man on a mission, aggressively leaving his mark on any player who ventured near him.
Now it was time for him to attack.
Burning the defence line with his acceleration, Waqa hit top gear down the sideline. As Perham and other defenders came across in cover, Blake centre kicked. The kick took a deflection on its path to the line, and Elie El-Zakhem was there to grab the spoils.
Not long after, a shift of play to the left inside the quarter saw Waqa use his pace to great effect to charge over out wide.
Reed Mahoney pulled the Blues a bit closer with a try which was reminiscent of his NYC days. On the back of very quick play the ball ten metres out, “Cash” darted at the retreating defence and his speed and momentum saw him spearing between defenders for the try.
Junior then reminded everyone of the challenge of stopping him close to the line as he exploded into the defence for the try. It was a brutal charge, yet it would prove to be simply the prelude to the play of the morning.
In the set following the kick off, a shift to the right as the team marched towards half way produced a half line break by Ice. Mitch Rein loomed in support and as the defence converged on him he grubber kicked ahead, and the ever present Moses chased to pick up the bouncing ball and then sprinted to the line. Magnificent stuff!
At this point, there might be some who read the preamble and wondered where does Ogden fit into this description.
Consider a typical match report. The focus is often on the big plays that led to scores, and my notes refer to the highlight plays which are naturally moments that are either the tries or the line breaks.
Today Ogden excelled in the tough carries, especially those deep in his own half. He demanded that the defenders come in numbers to stop him, and even then fought in the contact. My vantage point isn’t great for assessing the work of the middles, but he would not be denied in this session.
Likewise, I want to acknowledge the service of Mitch Rein. His passes were fairly snapping to the first receiver, and I thought that service was helping to establish the momentum of his side.
When the referee’s whistle signalled a halt to the play, it seemed likely that the action had finished for the morning. But after a debrief with the players, Arthur used the rest of the session to dictate where the sets would start from.
To clarify, a team would begin a set from a scrum, a penalty or perhaps a line drop out so that they could immediately go on the attack. Incidentally, it looked like a couple of the players swapped teams at this point.
The highlights from this latter part of session included:
A brilliant offload by Carty to set up a try to the White team.
A Blue team try to Russell off terrific work from the inside players, possibly Arthur, Lane and Opacic
Heads up footy from Moses close to the line to create try out of nothing for Naiduki
Penisini setting up Simonsson for a try, with the flying winger providing a dose of the spectacular in his aerial work to get the ball down in the corner.
This was quite the way to finish the week. Though I haven’t mentioned it till now, and it may seem unlikely with the mention of the attacking plays, there was no quarter given in defence. I dare say some ice packs would be in use after the session.
And for those who read my Wednesday report, handling errors were not a feature at all.
The first trial arrives next week.
Can you feel it?
What position does Ogden play?
Thanks for the report again mate. I’m enjoying reading that Waqa is having a big off season and look forward to seeing him play this season. I recall a try he scored vs the Titans at Robina a couple of years ago. Moses ran across field around the half way mark and offloaded to Waqa. He broke the line and ran forty meters to score under the posts. The noticeable thing for me was he seemed to glide at full flight and was so light on his feet. He’s not a small man and needless to say the tacklers had… Read more »
Grunta, seeing Waqa in full flight, whether it be in sprints or in opposed work is a thing of beauty. You’re correct, he glides. Quite the athlete.
I recall seeing him take ground away from Papenhausen. He takes time to wind up.
I reckon he’s improved his acceleration.
Ogden is a prop. I’ve seen him in the Dogs side and he looked promising. Fitness and defense looked more like the issue. We have a few spots that could be open on the bench. 8.Jnr 9 Mahoney 10 Rcg 11 Marata 12 Pappa 13 Matterson 14 Stone 15 N.Brown 16 Bryce 17 Lane I’d say that would be our best 17 starting the season if all fit. I don’t feel like Stone, Lane or Bryce’s positions are guaranteed and I imagine Greig,Kafusi,Ogden,Rodwell,Makatoa and Hollis will all will be looking to take their spots. And due to injuries most will… Read more »
That it is Gary and at this stage I’d be naming Rein in 14.
Thanks Sixties. My biggest take from your extensive reports, or should I say the one that I am so pleased about, is how Waqa has himself ready for a huge season. I declare Waqa is a big favourite of mine.
Me too. He has been much maligned since joining the Club. I reckon he will become a ‘huge’ crowd favourite in 2022…
If he plays like he’s been training he’ll have a big season.
If I’m not mistaken, it’s his first full uninterrupted pre-season with us
Yep one season he dislocated his shoulder in the world nines and last pre-season was interrupted with injury as well. Didn’t play the trial game from memory.
I have always tried to defend Waqa when possible. Really hoping he delivers. Two strike centres is something we have not had in a long time.
His attitude has been outstanding Electric.
Graz, I’d say that this is his least interrupted preseason
Based on your previous “early team” prediction, do you see Kafusi, Maka or someone else likely making room for Ogden? Would be disappointed for any of the players that missed out, they’ve all seemed to work hard to earn their spots, but that’s footy I guess and competition is only a good thing. Also 60s interested in your thoughts on the quality of this preseason vs last year? From your reports we seem to have a stronger squad and a few players have had a rare opportunity to come into a clean full off-season. But on the flip side there… Read more »
Mick, it’s been an interesting preseason to cover. The period just after new year has been well documented as the Covid peak for teams. And Parra wasn’t an island. Also, the Covid protocols have meant that I haven’t been able to watch from a close vantage point like previous years. Hence, I haven’t reported too much about the middles (outside of today) or the lines being run by individual forwards. In past seasons I was watching from just behind the in goal and often it was the end of the field that they’d complete red zone drills. That aside, there… Read more »
Great post sixties, it certainly feels like the liniment is getting some overtime once the training is done with. Good to see Waqa finally showing his abilities after some years, but I wonder if having some stronger players around him have helped his game show, with Penisini alongside him, and the wingers in Haze and Simonson on the flanks, they will have a big impact throughout the year, especially as they learn to gel together. In one of my early comments for this year, I made mention of the prospect that some of the recruits may well end up in… Read more »
Cheers Colin. With Waqa, he hit some very strong form in the back half of the season and he looks likely to pick up where he left off.
I believe that the pressure will be on for some of those spots.
Great reading, in your opinion Sixies what order would you rate the following forwards? (All going for a bench spot)
My understanding is that Ogden does not have a Top 30 spot and is on a train and trial contract only. Would you expect him to be upgraded? Makes it hard to be in the Round 1 side otherwise?
Phools he isn’t top 30. But he should be. And I’m not suggesting he gets a round 1 gig. But if his form continues to be this strong, then Ogden will put pressure on.
Tks sixties. My memory might be dodgy but when Ogden first appeared you thought he was around the 106 kg mark, he probably had a few more kilos.
What do you think his playing weight would be? It just sounds like he’s a decent sized unit. He’s been under the radar a bit, but you get the sniff that a few newer blokes might step up this year.
Without checking, I thought he looked heavier than his listed weight. He seems to have shed kilos and looks very tall.
Good read Sixties, bring on the Og for competition.
How are the hookers all going??
Cheers mate. Rein providing great competition for Reed.
Sixties, you have mentioned Papali’i a few times running lines and breaking through, was this as a middle or edge?. Last season he started like a house on fire on the edge, then second half of season he played more middle and come off the bench latter part of season. I noticed that Ice was being found out in defence a little bit on the edge. Watched a few replays and a few speedy players were getting on his outside, he didn’t seem to have the zip needed to defend laterally, and I think is why BA moved him to… Read more »
I’ve picked him in my round 1 team on the edge. That probably is a clue. Also, the Eels middle stocks are much fuller than the edge, though there are players who can play both – like Ice, Lane and Marata.
Ice churns out too many meters in the middle to waste him on the edge and Lane’s edge defence is too solid to play him in the middle
“Cash” that’s gold!!
To be fair, that’s what Forty has always called him – Cash Mahoney.
So who played Fullback in the absent of king gutho no mention of that and apparently played well ?
i trust that you’re not expecting me to type out team lists in training reports. There are two full teams with players subbing on and off and some positional changes. I try to provide an overall report with highlights and a couple of thoughts around the form of certain players pushing for selection based on preseason form. There are limitations to what I can observe.
It was Josh Tuipulotu who played fullback and did well.
Penrith Panthers this season 2022 will loose 5 quality players in Mat Burton, Kurt Capewell, Tyrone May, Paul Momirovski and Brent Naden.
They will also lose Tevita Pangai Junior who was recruited mid season to bulk up their squad for a run at the 2021 GF for the second year running.
James Hooper is not saying anything negative about their chances for success in 2022 so they must be pretty much certainties for the GF again.
It will be interesting to see how this turns out.
Nothing to see there apparently John.
Great to hear about the content that goes into top level training sessions