The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training Report – November 7 To 11, 2022: Opportunity Knocks

Welcome to the first pre-season training report of the 2023 season. It feels strange referencing it as 2023, but the upcoming six weeks or so of training in the lead up to Christmas will be critical for Eels fringe players, pathways products and new recruits.

To clarify that, there were around 22 players involved in this first week. More players will join them each subsequent week, with their return determined by when their season finished, the details of their contract, and how many seasons of NRL they have on their resume.

By early December, the NRL players not involved in the World Cup will be back in work, with the international stars making their first appearance in January.

There is an absolute slew of young talent in this first group, many of whom were involved in the mid-season Parramatta JETS program. A six week NRL preseason is the reward for their promise and effort. How many days they train for each week is determined by their individual circumstance.

I won’t name those pathways players in this report, though a few of them have deserved special mention. I’ll let them settle into their work for a bit longer first.

Back on the training track

However, there is no harm in listing the “older” brigade – those who’ve played NSW Cup level or who’ve already featured in last year’s preseason.

Matt Komolafe, Jontay Betham-Misa, Jayden Yates, Brendan Hands, Dan Keir, Tevita Taumoepenu, Jirah Momoisea and Jack Murchie would all be familiar with NRL training expectations. If I’ve missed any players from this category I’ll amend the post here. With some of these fellas pushing for an NRL opportunity in 2023, their efforts on the training track right now will lay the groundwork for realising such ambitions.

Yates, Hands and Keir all look to be in superb condition. The off-season would have been in name only for them. They’ve turned up ready.

The first week appeared to be all about familiarisation, with the coaches laying down the law about standards and expectations.

Even something as simple as warm up routines need explanation and familiarisation, especially as Trent Elkin’s conditioning drills are designed to get players thinking about a goal for each set.

Skills acquisition featured from Day 1, with short pass and long pass drills kicking things off. The session rounded out with 4 vs 3 grid work which put the microscope on competing and footy discipline. Arthur wrapped things with a very strong message about what he needs to see moving forward.

Wednesday’s session emphasised the willingness to learn within this group. Whereas Monday highlighted how raw the players are, the second field session was sharp with players immediately grasping the purpose of each drill.

Again there was no time wasted. Footy skills were once more included, with rapid passing featuring, and defence line movements being a key component.

Typically, the final session of the week was the toughest. The players completed their first sets of M runs, and this is where the fittest begin to shine.

On that point, the effort games that they played on the back of the runs allowed the best conditioned to excel.

The kick chase game is non stop running. I reckon the lungs would have been burning more from that game than from the M runs.

And if that wasn’t enough, the pole touch footy game (where the defender who stopped the play exits the field around a pole before rejoining the defence line) asks even more questions, and the effort required to get back into the defence without leaving your side a man down is indicative of the team ethos that coaches are looking for.

Players were left in no doubt about that after they had finished.

Friday concluded with ruck plays and tackling skills – single man and two man tackles, with plenty of contact and leg drive on show.

The overall fitness of the squad deserves praise. The majority of these young pathways boys have prepared themselves well for their opportunity. We’ve seen a number of times in the past where players haven’t don’t so. The price paid can be high.

As far as coaching staff are concerned, Trent Barrett and Nathan Cayless were there, and we were also able to grab a few words with Murf.

From a player perspective, it interesting to see a couple of the top 30 fellas there in their “civvies”. Jake Arthur and Sam Loizou are still on their break, but Jake was kicking footballs around on one of the adjoining fields, with Loizou feeding him the passes.

Though not back into the preseason grind, these two mates were dedicating their time to honing specific skills.

Eels forever!



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Colin Hussey

Good report sixties – In the shadows of 2022, and the new season already showing some shine.

One player that I have seen this past season in limited games is Brendan Hands, & from what I have seen of him, he’s quite a capable player in more than one position as well. One other aspect was his ability to read the play and he also has good speed out of the halves as well.

Another good year and he could be anything.

Colin Hussey

VT, but with possible halves losses give him a more permanent spot to make his own ?????


It’s going to be a long pre-season and us fans will be doing it tough too. As usual though, your reports make the footie hiatus much more interesting.


Great read Sixties and its interesting to read about the younger generation coming up. I thoroughly enjoy the reads and miss them more from being so far away mate. I am itching for a Kens more than ever.

John Eel

Milo how long are you staying in England?


Hi John, unsure tbh mate – maybe till July. I am going to see what winter is like here. I have not seen a real sausage roll nor anything like Kens. He would make a motza in London etc. 🥧

John Eel

I am not trying to tease you but the weather has been really good in recent times.

Enjoy yourself in the old dart.


I don’t doubt that mate; and in contrast the fog was here all day today! True. Good experiences here and things to see but the weather at times is not conducive to this Aussie…but i will get through it.


That hurts mate, i feel you added that in as a tease. You still get the Mornay?


You should try a sausage roll from the small bakery at Killarney Vale; it’s down near neat the Coles. It’s a small shop and they do some good sausage rolls and small range of pies albeit not the same style as Kens but we visited there at time. Their cakes are also v good and if you like a custard tart……then get three!!
You don’t realise what you miss mate…..Courtney misses the Diet Cokes from McDonalds!!

John Eel

Is that Norro’s? They have a bakery at The Entrance near Coles.


Hi John, no it’s the pie shop along Wyong road down near Coles on the left before the small roundabout. It’s a small shop and not the large bakery you see on the left. I hope they’re still there!!

John Eel


Rise of an Empire

Killarney Vale been eating them for 50 years


Rise, it’s probably why you are still going strong. They also make a superb custard tart! I think their sausage rolls were the best or one of i have ever consumed.


Great read Sixties. Really looking forward to your reports. We have to find a fitness and mental toughness regime. Something that will get us to Panthers level. What ever was done last session needs to be upped several fold we can’t stand still. BA has to challenge these men to get out of their comfort zones. The fluctuations in personal performance this season is what really lead to the “inconsistent” label. We can’t allow it in ’23. I don’t want Gutho to remain as No 1 in the fitness and effort stakes. I’d like to see him overtaken (in a… Read more »


Pete that is a wonderful pint and i totally agree; it would be amazing if someone does throw down the Gauntlet consistently and be up there with Gutho.
From memory Jake A had some moments last season and i also thing another player from Reggies, but cannot recall name.


100% it might even be JA that ups the level…


Heard any news or when we should expect some in regards to Moses and Dylan?


Blaize Talagi on a development contract according to Hope he does well in the pre-season and into next year. Going to be a big step up for him


Is he the 5/8??? Interesting move. I wonder if the new coaches too see something in him?


How old is he? I assumed Ethan Parry was above him in pecking order.


Talagi is listed in Dev contract for ‘23 & ‘24 on the official squad tracker.

John Eel

Sixties it seems to me that they are identifying talent that they see have an NRL future.

By offering them Development contracts in such an early stage of their career limits the ability of other clubs poaching these players for their own system.

We are dealing with a new beast now with players looking for instant gratification meaning they want an NRL debut early wherever they can get it.

Achilles' Eel

I think you might be on to something there,John. Latu Fainu has a top 30 contract with Manly; Karl Oloapu expects to have one with Brisbane; while our old boy, Myles Martin is on a development contract at Newcastle. There’s likely to be others like them as well.


Myles was a decent young player back when 15/16…shame we didn’t keep. I understand he was offered good coin to leave but he looked v good


Did you mean Ethan Sanders? Maybe the club is eyeing a top 30 spot for him?


Have you noticed anything that
Trent Barrett has introduced.
Early days I know.

Parra Pete

Is Josh Hodgson training with the Club…

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