The Cumberland Throw

Bumpers Up – June 7, 2022: What Bye Week?

This season, the timing of the Eels bye could not have been better.

The first half of the year has featured relentless travel, including trips to Brisbane, Darwin
, Melbourne, Newcastle and Canberra and just four games at CommBank Stadium.

Coming out of the break, nearly every game will be in Sydney including seven games at home. It’s nicely set up for a strong charge to the finals series.

Parra’s lower grade teams enjoyed their global bye in the Magic Round, so both were in action last weekend. The Cumberland Throw covered those matches, and there were some interesting observations to be made.

Across the NRL, we now have the showpiece of mid season via the Origin series. It’s interesting that club coaching news seems to be leaking out at this time. What a coincidence.

How is it that there’s so much to dig the fangs into coming out of a bye round? I’m not complaining – it’s the very fabric of rugby league that we all know and love.

Bumpers Up!


Origin Honours

There has been genuine reward for performance with the selection of Junior Paulo, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Ryan Matterson in the Blues squad.

The Eels Origin announcement (A ripper from Jane Mortimer)

I’ve referenced it before, but it’s worth mentioning again that Fittler has said that the selection of three forwards from the same club pack was based on the success of Parramatta against competition big guns, the Storm and the Panthers.

Playing in a finals bound team has its benefits. Leaving a strong group, as some Eels players will be doing at season’s end, comes with a career risk.

Speaking of risk, higher honours brings more intense footy and the possibility of injury. In 2021, Mitch Moses suffered a back injury during the early moments of his Origin debut and carried that injury through the back half of the season.

I’ll be cheering every charge and every tackle made by our Eels boys tomorrow night. But excuse me for feeling a little apprehensive when watching those collisions.

Here’s to a Blues win in an injury free contest.

Coaching Instability

Trent Barrett gone.

Nathan Brown gone.

Michael Maguire gone.

Will they be the last? Probably not.

The Bulldogs, Warriors and Tigers are anchored to the bottom half of the table and the way out seems difficult for each to find.

Out of all potential scenarios, parting ways with the coach is the most expedient, but not necessarily the best option. In two of the confirmed departures, the coach has put their hand up to leave but don’t kid yourself. The writing was already on the wall just as it was with Maguire.

Don’t get me wrong. Each of those coaches has struggled at their respective clubs but  questions must be asked of those in charge.

Both Barrett and Brown had their issues at previous gigs. There was no shortage of punters doubting the wisdom of the appointments.

Did each coach receive the necessary support in terms of personnel and roster? From the outside looking in, there were some ordinary additions to the playing groups, and in Barrett’s case, there were whispers of dissatisfaction with him within the first 12 months.

On NRL 360, Phil Rothfield broke news of Maguires demise courtesy of his calls to “Tigers insiders”. Whoever these so called insiders are, and one assumes the journo is speaking with people who have some connection with the club, it speaks volumes about the organisation that there are people within it who would drop this mail directly to someone in the media. The intent is obvious.

I’m not sure who is the most pusillanimous, the coach who walks or the insiders who either break confidences or strategically leak internal discussions. It’s a stark contrast to the resilience demonstrated by Brad Arthur during his tenure.

Times like this make me value the stability and integrity at the Eels even more. It should serve as a reminder for the critics within our own supporter base.

From Drought To Flooding Rain?

Just over a month ago, the Eels were in all sorts trying to field outside backs.

Haze Dunster, Waqa Blake, Sean Russell, Maika Sivo and Solomone Naiduki were all out of action. The injury to Marata Niukore arguably removed another option at centre.

During the peak injury period, Dylan Brown found himself selected at centre and then utility back Hayze Perham was elevated to the first grade wing spot.

Waqa Blake

The successful return of Waqa Blake on the wing has probably overshadowed news of the Eels outside backs returning from injury.

Last Friday night, the Eels NSW Cup team featured Sivo and Russell on the wings,  with Perham and Cini in the centres. Naiduki was 18th man whilst Loizou was unavailable for selection.

It seems like Naiduki is unable to force his way into the side, so it will be interesting to see what happens when Loizou is available. Will that result in Perham being moved back into the halves? Williams is proving a good foil for Arthur, and coaches rarely like to disrupt halves combinations.

As I said, it’s been a huge change in just a few weeks.


Mounties Massacre

I covered Friday night’s NSW Cup clash between the Eels and the Mounties in the somewhat frigid conditions at Kellyville Park. There was a serious class divide between the two teams, and the 38 nil score line actually flattered Mounties.

To be clear, that’s not meant as a shot at Mounties. I believe they function as the second feeder team to the Dogs, with players who don’t make the cut to for Canterbury’s NSW Cup side placed in this team. In effect, they are in a similar position to Ron Massey cup teams. To their credit, they currently sit above Wests and the Sea Eagles on the table.

From an Eels perspective, there were some standout performances.

The Eels left was the “go to side” on the night, with Sivo accumulating 253 run metres and Cini contributing 169 metres. Please note, Sivo probably only had to run a grand total of 25 metres in crossing for his three tries.

In contrast the right side saw far less of the play, with Perham and Russell running less than 100 metres.

Rodwell and Greig had big games, running 236 and 233 run metres respectively. Rodwell backed up his role in attack by being the equal top tackler with 27. These stats backed up the eye test, as I had given Rodwell the 3 points in my player of the match decision.

Arthur would have also been impressed by Ogden‘s return to action. He provided genuine impact  off the bench in tallying 174 run metres in just 33 minutes of game time.

I rated Jake Arthur amongst the best on field in a very physical performance.

Jake Arthur

Clocking up 150 run metres, the 19 year old half accrued most of that either in the meat of the ruck or just on the edge via 17 line engagement runs. 

Throw in five tackle breaks, a try assist, a line break assist and what should have been a solo try (obstruction was called), and it was a busy night for Jake.

These stats shouldn’t come as a surprise. In just five NSW Cup games so far this year, Jake has accumulated 8 try assists and 7 line break assists. He averages 122 running metres per game and despite playing so few games, sits fourth in the competition for line engagements with 55.

His defence efficiency sits at 87.8%, quite high for a half. In fact, the play that caught my eye was his chase on a Mounties break mid way through the first half. Arthur demonstrated great pace to reel in the player and nearly force him into touch.

Jake has never let outside noise distract his footy and he continues to demonstrate his skills and tenacity on a weekly basis.


Reflecting On The Raiders

After the Eels victory over the Raiders I declared that such was the quality of the contest, the Green Machine would have beaten most teams on the day.

Canberra’s victory over the Roosters validated that opinion.

Forget the missing Roosters stars. The Raiders roster was also missing key players in Papali’i, Wighton, Croker and CNK.

I didn’t expect the Raiders to play finals football and they still might miss that goal.

However, at their best they are a class above teams from the bottom half of the table.

And if they maintain their current level of play, any odds of them making the 8 is money for jam.

Another Graduate Makes The Grade

The Eels 2019 SG Ball team has produced another NRL debutant, this time for the Raiders.

On Sunday, Trey Mooney joined Will Penisini, Jake Arthur, Sean Russell and Sam Loizou as players who’ve taken the step from Junior Reps to first grade.

Mooney is a physical presence on the field and is on the verge of becoming a regular in the Raiders 17.

Pathways are like a funnel. An extremely small percentage of players make the transition to an NRL career. Even competition winning junior rep teams can struggle to produce NRL players.

This Eels 2019 team has had early success with NRL debuts and they might not be finished.


Top Of The Try Scorers

Matt Komolafe

Speaking of that team, another of their alumni has been carving it up on the wing in the Eels lower grades.

Matt Komolafe has crossed the stripe 15 times this season. That includes 9 tries NSW Cup and six in Jersey Flegg.

It’s a brilliant strike rate, though Komolafe has always had the ability to convert half chances into tries.

The big winger seems injury free and his form is reflecting what must be an increase in confidence.


Upcoming News

This week kicks off in a big way with the Eels Junior Representative Presentation Night. Forty and I will be in attendance and we’ll provide a report on all the award winners.

Later this week we’ll also present our mid season team gradings. There’ll be a rating given to the NRL, NSW Cup and Flegg teams in addition to individual nominees in particular categories. That post is sure to create its share of discussion.

Finally, it will be a very special “Behind The Mic” segment with Spiro this Thursday. Our man in the media spent last weekend in Melbourne for the George Kambosos title fight and he’ll be reporting in about the event and some of the interesting people in attendance.


Eels forever!



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Yes sixties, the form line through the Raiders is good and we gifted them points. Tapine very good again


Tapine is in the best form of his career


A couple of years back I thought Tapine and Sua were the 2 forwards you could bring on board and improve your grunt. Tapine has improved discipline and work rate, Sua is working along the same lines. I rate Marata with these blokes.


We seem to be on the up, on and off the field. Just hope we can remain calm on the field and defence is the key; our depth seems to be back, and to me the top 4 is in our reach.


Milo, that would be our aim. It has to be our aim.


I must admit I don’t really get the constant axing of coaches. Some of the junk the bottom squads take to the field has little to do with coaching. It’s lack of effort, fitness, skill, patience etc. and players need to be held more accountable in these bottom of the pack teams. In the case of Madge it seemed one of the issues was there were too many chefs in the kitchen making decisions. Not sure he was set up to succeed.


little to do with coaching ??? BA ( salary cap ,loss of points ,players etc ) but he managed to turn it around , record 84 weeks in top 8 so far , its ALL about coaching mickb , every player in our club has been developed by our coaching staff to a better level , madge has been trying to buy his way out for 4 seasons , nathan brown same , trent barrett was supposed to have bought these super players but hes failed again , he failed at manly with a great roster full of soo players… Read more »


This is why I’m very happy to have the coach that we do in BA


One of the problems is not knowing that level of support. But Sheens has since said that they are looking for a development coach at the Tigers. One who can bring along young players and get the best out of the other more experienced ones. That sounds familiar to me. Nathan Brown described himself as a development coach. I’m not sure that he he has ever got the job fully done. Ever. As for Barrett, unfortunately he has minimal runs on the board. He needs a premiership level roster. I’d be holding each of the boards of those clubs accountable… Read more »


Mr Sixties,we are indeed fortunate to have BA as coach. I have said that for a number of years. And it is true I have been critical of BA essentially over his use of the bench and it’s selections. Such criticism is not necessarily unfounded however he has brought the team back from the brink. He has experienced a number of setbacks that would throw others. The loss of points Losing Semi and Haynes at the same time That fitfull year 2018. But BA has kept looking to conquer that mountain. When we look at teams who have long time… Read more »


Mick, in my view there are not enough quality players in the game; and to me the level of development by the nrl and clubs is the reason. Lets see how the Dolphins go, as to me there are not enough quality players out there. If the nrl were serious they would invest in the boys games again at a junior level rather than watering down the game. I also think coaching is a separate issue but also worthy of comment. Most coaches copy others (Melb type wrestle for one example). There is no incentive for clubs like Parra to… Read more »


I agree with most of your points Milo. @ Annonymous, I don’t think it is all about coaching with the teams that have axed their coach. That’s different to saying coaches don’t make a difference, and that’s not what I said. Barrett aside, the Tigers and Warriors have been operating in exceptionally dysfunctional circumstances. Add to that, the players are just not putting in. Falling off tackles, not staying in structure, making unacceptable amounts of basic and largely unforced errors. These issues stem from more issues than are within the sole control of the head coach. Madge has won a… Read more »


Talk to the players mick , they know who and what matters !!! Check out our roster full of unwanted players , now everyone wants them , not about coaching your kidding !!!!


Thanks Mick, and i see that too. cheers, its funny how some coaches can win a comp with a certain club and then go elsewhere and do little; classic example is Des at C’Bury…..his salary cap certainly copped a hiding. He did not even have Gus there too! How lucky was that?


Yes 60’s the Jets is a different type of program; i guess from a fans view we see some decent players taken elsewhere and i know it is how it works, but it is frustrating at times. Least we have kept some good ones.

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