The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training Report – November 14 to 18, 2022: A Bit More Barrett

It’s week two of the preseason and more players are making their return this week.

The core group of “senior” players now sits at around 12. Because the Jersey Flegg preseason commenced this week, the younger pathways players will only train once or twice per week with the NRL coaches.

The returning players this week included Matt Doorey, Toni Mataele, Zac Cini and Luca Moretti. And I can report that Zac’s famous mullet is no more.

At this stage, I’m seeing the first signs of what Trent Barrett will bring. I’ve been able to watch and listen to him coach small groups and individuals and it’s easy to understand why he was held in such high regard at Penrith.

Barrett is a very good communicator and there are aspects/skills of attack such as lines run and ways of engaging defenders that are a bit different that he’s already imparting. I’m expecting him and Murf to combine well as the attack coaches.

After warm ups, Monday kicked off with sprints over various distances, with players running at a certain percentage of top speed depending on the distance.

The amazing thing about sports science and GPS readings is that data relating to this can be tracked across the group and across individuals and feedback given immediately to Trent Elkin.

Monday’s footy skills included defence around the ruck, with the squad splitting into small groups and the coaches attaching themselves to a group. BA then moved around to monitor and speak with each group.

After that the focus shifted to attack with the squad working on their running lines and providing options with different angles.

The group receiving instructions on Monday

Wednesday’s session involved the smallest group of the preseason this far. The pathways boys were absent so it was down to just 12 players, most of whom are forwards. Essentially, the smaller group is made up of train and triallists, new recruits and development contracted players.

The early part of the session was dedicated to conditioning and the squad was able to keep together as a group. By that I mean that there was a reasonably consistent standard across all players.

As the session progressed, defence drills again featured, this time working on short side decision making and effort. Often times, when attack is thrown at the short side it’s an unexpected play or when the defence hasn’t got its numbers right. Therefore, effort and communication rather than organisation is what allows the team to repel the shot. The talk was emphasised in this drill.

After a short period of ball work it was time for 4 vs 4 grid footy, rapidly transitioning between attack and defence with effort plays remaining an important component.

The session finished with further familiarisation with basic shapes that the Eels will use this season. This is something that changes each year with each shape having a name and variations that go with it, so players need to become familiar with it and their role.

Friday was again the same players as Wednesday and began with the typical conditioning demands. The M runs ask questions of the players and you can see the mental struggle that goes alongside the physical questions.

Jayden Yates is the machine in this group, with Brendan Hands also up there. But a special mention must go to Dan Keir who actually gets better with every set to the point where he ends up right on Jayden’s heels in the final runs.

I also thought that Jock Brazel acquitted himself very well in this conditioning work. Jock will be involved in the preseason both before and after Christmas.

The second half of the session involved a mix of attack and defence. There was the conditioning and movement defence line drills which led into goal line defence practice.

This was followed up by 4 on 3 grid footy. This grid work often provides the opportunity for coaches to look at effort areas and in my opinion allows more players to be in the spotlight than traditional full field games. Outside of effort plays, it shows skills and decision making in rapid succession in both attack and defence and gives the coaches another perspective on what they’re working with.

The attacking footy continued with ruck plays and support runs. This group features two dummy halves and apart from Cini and Komolafe it’s all forwards so such drills are probably ideal.

It was then back to tackle technique as the session began to wind up before extras.

I’m expecting more players to return during the next two weeks before the first of the NRL regulars are seen in early December.

This week we were introduced to both Trent Barrett and Steve Antonelli, allowng us to welcome both of the Eels new assistant coaches to the club. Later on Friday I was able to say g’day to Nathan Cayless and welcome him back to the fold.

A scheduled pathways meeting in the Kellyville offices on Friday also provided me with the opportunity to introduce TCT to Nathan Brown and Jamie Shepherd. It won’t be long till our coverage of junior reps commences so the timing was ideal.

Bring on week 3.

Eels forever!


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40 thoughts on “Eels Pre-Season Training Report – November 14 to 18, 2022: A Bit More Barrett

  1. Shaun

    As always love the reports. On Barrett, I contend that not every good assistant coach will always make a good head coach. And that is not a slight on Barrett but it seems his current strengths are in that assistant role. If so a great pickup for the coaching staff.

      1. Shaun

        True. And Barrett did coach at two of the toughest clubs in terms of fractured board and all that goes on behind the scenes. And we all know what happened with the coaches that tried their luck at Parra before the reformation. Good luck to him and go Parra!

    1. sixties Post author

      Hey Shaun, if you haven’t done so, check out the Amyl and the Sniffers live at KEPX on YouTube. I’ve taken a screen shot that I’ve put on the TCT Instagram account which should be the clue as to why I’ve recommended it on a Parra site.

  2. Colin Hussey

    As usual sixties a well detailed and encouraging post.

    I would suggest that the small numbers in the squad this week has benefits for the players involved as the coaches can provide more personal helps for the players especially as new coaches can add a lot more to them.

    I like Barrett as part of the coaching ranks, and some good young developing players will benefit from him. The players you mention I believe will be vg additions to the teams.

    1. sixties Post author

      Colin, there is a lot more attention that the players can get, especially when the group splits into smaller groups.

  3. pete

    Thanks for the report Sixties,
    Looks like it will be a case of who’s missing from training until the new year.

    Great to see Moretti and Hands putting in.

    With Junior and Reg playing a much longer season than usual. I’m not sure if it’s going to bite-us come the back end of the season.
    Unlikely, but Im just hoping we can get a Klemmer type (probably not if he wants $800k). But if we swing Brown to Tigers and pull off a three way swap with Knights – a very slim chance. Failing that Ogden and Greig are going to have to lift this year and they’ll have to be given game time. Perhaps experiment with Junior coming off the bench after 20 minutes.
    Thanks again

      1. pete

        Of course! Obviously, would deserve more than 20 minutes. But as I said a very long shot it was and especially at his asking price. But as i said we Definitely need a ‘Klemmer type’ or someone N Brown used to be.

          1. Milo

            Maybe John, but BA seemed reluctant to give him a shot this season, hence why i thought someone else could come in. I did not mind Grieg but he was not seen much.
            I am assuming N Brown is moved on too, hence some $$$ to spend.

  4. Anonymous

    So glad Barrett is with us , was such a great attacking coach at Penrith ! Just watch the wrestling to begin 💙💛 just what we need .

  5. Milo

    HI Sixties,
    Thanks for the weekly wrap up here.
    I find this time of the pre-season v interesting and some names tend to pop up.
    Who do we see as hooker back up? I know its v early but i felt we lacked in this area this season and also when is Hodgson due back for pre-season?

    1. Tanky

      Mate hooker for me is a major concern and needs to be on the bench I know rein didn’t set the world on fire last year but him or hopefully a young bloke coming through is hands an option?

        1. Anonymous

          I was wondering if Grieg is still well regarded, he’s got the size and he played an indigenous game 3 yrs ago so if he’s not ready now he may never be. Also
          Is dunster training ?? Thx

      1. Milo

        Agreed, i feel we need a DH on the bench or a utility type forward who can play some varied roles. I guess it depends on final make up of squad. Ideally a player who can play DH and also be versatile too; hence if Hodgson stays fit he can slot into the halves if one of them goes down, then we could carry a DH / utility on bench. To me we need to be better in the ruck for 80 mins. Hodgson can do this if he stays on the park.

    2. sixties Post author

      At this stage I guess that Rein remains the back up and if BA decides to put cover on the bench he won’t restrict it to just covering one spot, he’ll use Jake. But if he goes that way, he wouldn’t play Jake there every week. He’d rotate like last year.

  6. HINDY111

    Hey 60s guy. Great effort on your write ups.
    It is going to be an interesting season I feel as a lot of transitioning is about to take place.
    Would love to hear a bit about our juniors down the track and how things will be changed with the envolvement of N.Brown. It seems to be an area we can improve on.

    1. sixties Post author

      You will have noted Forty’s posts, and we will as usual provide coverage of the junior rep season, starting with the trials. Having introduced myself and TCT to both Brown and Shepherd I’m looking forward to being able to build a rapport with both which is important in keeping our readers up to date with juniors.

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