The Cumberland Throw

Bumpers Up – December 24, 2022: Merry Christmas & Happy Birthday Edition

Christmas Eve is a special time for The Cumberland Throw. It marks the date that we first announced our arrival as a dedicated Parramatta Eels supporter site. Our birthday!

A late December launch came after months of meeting, planning, website design and ultimately content creation. After all, we had to offer a reason for that first visit.

We might normally expect this time of year to be quiet in Rugby League, but it seems that’s rarely the case. Case in point, some of the headlines I’ll touch on in this issue.

There’s the good and the not so good. Santa vs the Grinch if you will, but as far as I’m concerned  the focus on the positive deserves to be the sharpest. And that’s my intent here.

Just quietly, there’ll be no holiday for TCT over Christmas and New Year. There’s some content in the pipeline and we’ll be ready to cover any breaking news.

Bumpers Up!


A Christmas Contract Gift From The Eels

The contract extension of Dylan Brown was a timely holiday gift for the many thousands of Eels supporters stressing out over the rich offers from rival clubs. Congratulations to Eels media for their unique announcement of the deal. Just brilliant!

I was quietly confident about Dylan remaining an Eel. I shared the story about an earlier contract extension in my previous issue of Bumpers Up. It was an insight into the mindset of a player who marches to the beat of his own drum.


Though Brown was an import to our pathways at the Harold Matts level, Parramatta is his rugby league home. That raw talent identified by Anthony Field has been fine tuned by his Eels coaches, with Dylan praising BA for what he has done for his game over the past four seasons.

The key to a development club finding success is keeping the best of those from their pathways. It’s not always possible to do so, as even the Panthers have discovered. But in Brown, the Eels have locked up a major local talent.

My Christmas wish is that similar ties that bind will get Will Penisini across the line. Another pathways product, the Blue and Gold is part of his DNA. Will’s association with Brad Arthur stretches back even further than Dylan Brown, as the dynamic centre was coached by BA at the Rouse Hill Rhinos.

And when Penisini prepares for his footy each week at Kellyville, he’s joined by a host of Rhino or Eels Junior Rep team mates including Sean Russell, Jake Arthur, Sam Loizou, Toni Mataele, Jontay-Junior Betham-Misa and Matt Komolafe. It also doesn’t hurt that his younger brother Richard is highly rated within the Eels system.


Buckets Delivers

Hopefully most of you have had the opportunity to catch our podcast with Eels GM of Football, Mark O’Neill. Buckets has endeavoured to record a chat with TCT at least once a year, and I appreciated him ensuring that it happened – this time in the lead up to Christmas.

The hour that we spent with Mark was informative with regard to club decisions, systems and ambitions. It was also an interesting insight into how busy a Football GM can be.

Though his phone was on silent we could see it constantly lighting up with calls and messages throughout the interview. It was no surprise that there was no time for a debrief when our recording had finished.

I should also mention that this all transpired late in the afternoon in mid December. A reminder that from players, to coaches, to administrators, there is rarely any down time in the NRL.


A Belated NRL Gift 

After a prolonged process of negotiations, the NRL has finally announced the salary caps for the 2023 NRL and NRLW seasons. It’s been a long wait and there can be no finger pointing at any courier service for the late delivery.

The total NRL cap of $12.1m includes $11.45m for the top 30 players and $650K for the development list. The minimum salary for a top 30 player will now rise to $120K.

As far as the NRLW is concerned, their cap will rise to $884K.

The CBA is still under discussion. With the current preseason in its Christmas break, and the countdown to NRL trials beginning, the NRL and RLPA wisely agreed to extend and amend the current CBA to provide clarity about the salary cap.

How this amended cap figure impacts player contracts currently under negotiation remains to be seen. Perhaps we might expect a flood of signing announcements.

A new cap of $884K for the NRLW Premiership is still well short of an amount that would see female players becoming full time professionals.

Eels marquee Tiana Penitani

Though the product is world class when stacked up against other women’s football codes, the NRL continues to take cautious steps. The expansion of the women’s premiership to ten teams will not include a home and away round between every team.

Outside of the financial considerations limiting further expansion, there are player depth and logistical questions to be answered. That said, the ultimate goal will remain a 17-18 team competition  running parallel with the NRL.

Until that happens, contracts will be limited as any future expansion will require significant numbers of free agents so that new franchises can immediately assemble competitive rosters.

Hence, we will only see multi-year deals for club nominated marquee signings, and our frustration will continue at not seeing the likes of the Cherrington sisters, Simaima Taufa, Rikeya Horne, Gayle Broughton, Ruby-Jean Kennard, Mina Hanisi and our other grand final stars locked up on long term deals.


The Annual Christmas Visit

As an Eels supporter, I’m proud of the decades long association between our club and Ronald McDonald House. It’s straight out special.

Recently the team made their annual Christmas visit to RM House at Westmead, giving out gifts, serving meals and just bringing some joy to those young children and their families. The images of the interactions say more than my words could.

A few months ago, Forty and I were invited by Parra Leagues to accompany their leadership team as they prepared and served meals. The tour of the facility, and watching such community service in action, was a memory that will stay with me.

Accordingly, the best thing I can do is, with acknowledgement to Eels media, share some of the photos of the players on the visit. The smiles say it all and there’s plenty on the faces of the players!

The Grinch

It’s a shame when the NRL hits the headlines for the wrong reasons. People are fallible, they make poor decisions or simply do bad things. For all of its good, our game is still subject to some of society’s wrongs.

The arrests of Junior Amone and Sam Burgess were always going to receive far more media attention than a visit to Ronald McDonald House, or any other community organisation by players or clubs.

So I’ll end my comment there. Instead, here’s another RMH visit photo.


Happy New Year From Eels Pathways

This week we posted about the extraordinary logistics involved in simultaneously staging Junior Rep trials at Goulburn and internal Development Squad trials at Westmead. What a day and what an accomplishment.

If you enjoy following Parramatta’s Junior Rep teams, don’t forget that the action starts coming your way from early in January.

Development squad trial action

Parramatta’s Matts, Ball and Gale teams play trials on January 14 and 21 against the Dogs and the Panthers respectively. Their competitions then commence on February 4.

Once more you can expect coverage of their seasons on TCT, with Forty20’s famous live blogs or my very average match updates.

I would like to give an early shout out to the coaches Chris Howard, Steve O’Dea, and Ryan Walker and all of the pathways staff.

Every year, our access to the program gets better and better, and by being involved and informed, we can continue to improve our coverage for Eels supporters.

Eels pathways staff go out of their way to make The Cumberland Throw welcome at training and on match days. We’ve been privileged to be a part of jersey presentations, captains runs with their associated video analysis and tip sheets, and end of season award nights.

We couldn’t ask for more.


Happy Birthday To TCT

Christmas Eve marks the 7th Birthday of The Cumberland Throw. On that day in 2015, with about a month of content already filmed or written, we hit the go button.

Little were we to know the dramas that would unfold in 2016. After starting the year with the excited expectation of a finals berth, It wasn’t much fun reporting on valid criticism of club processes or of having 12 competition points stripped from the team’s premiership standing.

Our early visitor numbers were encouraging. Around 280K visits were recorded in the first year. In 2022, that number will finish close to 700K – a new annual record.

The last 12 months have been extraordinary for the Eels, and we enjoyed the wild ride of a grand final season. 

After every home game, our live Instant Reaction podcasts became a staple of post match celebrations at the Home of the Eels, Parra Leagues. We truly appreciate the opportunity to partner with the club as they extend the match day experience to both before and after games. We enjoyed chatting with Blue and Gold legends and meeting our listeners who travelled from far and wide to CommBank Stadium and then to the club.

For me, a wonderful and validating moment this year came late in the season after covering a NSW Cup game on a cold and damp night at Kellyville. A couple of parents of Cup players approached me to introduce themselves and to thank TCT for our coverage. We’ve experienced similar moments of gratitude from the families of younger players in the past, and it meant a lot to have such feedback from the families of those closer to the top grade.

There are exciting developments on the horizon for TCT and as our community knows, there is no offseason. “All things Parramatta Eels” will mean more for supporters next year. And without our readers and listeners, and supporters like Starr Partners Auburn, Narellan and Parramatta, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. Grateful!

In the meantime, our coverage of the NRL preseason will continue then we’ll be bringing you all of the action from the Junior Rep season kicking off in early February.

Stand by!



On behalf of everyone at The Cumberland Throw, I extend the warmest wish that all of you and your families have a wonderful Christmas.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or simply enjoy the festive season (and hopefully some holidays), we hope that it is a happy and healthy time.

Thank you for your support during 2022.

Eels forever!


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49 thoughts on “Bumpers Up – December 24, 2022: Merry Christmas & Happy Birthday Edition

  1. Jack

    Merry Xmas boys! I didn’t see you
    Mention moses which worries me but fingers crossed he stays with the blue and gold 🙂 looking forward to 2023 season and all your insights

  2. Leigh

    Thanks for the work put in right through 2022 guys. Merry Christmas to all the TCT crew and look forward to your 2023 reports.

    1. sixties Post author

      Thanks so much Lee. Have a great Christmas. We look forward to having you back on board in the New Year.

  3. Anonymous

    Merry Christmas, happy birthday & a big thanks to you blokes for the informative posts & work behind the scenes for inside info on everything eels for us supporters & thanks big fella for the chat & extra info when we are watching the boys train

    1. sixties Post author

      Merry Christmas Pete and and our best wishes to your family. Thank you for your regular responses to our posts. Our community of supporters makes the site tick.

  4. Milo

    Merry Christmas and thank you for everything over the last period of years. And thanks for the extra trimmings of reports.
    I cannot believe its already been this long and a lot has occurred.
    The TCT team dedication and reporting is superb and the off season is as important as the season for me, i just love reading the reports and thank you all.
    Yes- lets hope we get some more good news soon, and more importantly everyone is well, enjoys the Christmas period and comes back healthy and safe, and even 1 or 2 kg heavier after a good Christmas season.

          1. Milo

            Cannot say i have had one; but a bacon one yeah and not as good a bacon n egg roll at local league venue!

    1. John Eel

      Milo before I go to the newly renovated Entrance hotel to get Boxing Day wasted. I must say it is now looking outstanding with the big sports screens after the major renovations. I would like to pick up on something you said.

      You talk about the great commentary on TCT over the last 7 years I would like to remind the TCT community of what a successful club we have become. We have gone from a boom or bust club since our last premiership in in 1986 to a club that has been in the Top 8 since Rd 1 of 2019.

      TCT has covered the last 7 years better, in my opinion than most of the professional media from an Eels perspective. There has been many times when I have been cradled in the foetal position after a disappointing game. Come onto TCT all angry but building confidence that better times are ahead.

      My thanks to all the TCT team for their efforts over the last seven years. However we now must as a club make the quantum leap from that consistent team to one that is always genuinely challenging for a premiership win.

      That is the challenge now for the Eels administration

      Merry Christmas

      1. sixties Post author

        John, some very kind words from Milo and yourself. We have certainly had some interesting times to cover. If I assess what we do, I think our point of difference to mainstream media is that we cover Parra from a whole club perspective. I’d like to think we get to know the strengths or weaknesses of the players in our system, and the type of football that the club is looking to play.
        It’s been some time since I’ve been to the Entrance Hotel. I look forward to checking out the renovations soon.

        1. John Eel

          The new screen is very big. This afternoon they had basketball and cricket playing next to each other on the same screen.

          I was waiting for the basketball to knock the bails off

      2. Milo

        Well said John yes we’ve become a more successful club on and off the field. You’re right about being a Consistent GF challenger.
        Also I gather you mean the Entrance hotel down near the water?From memory they had the makeshift drive through going on too back when the work all began.

        1. sixties Post author

          Lakes Hotel is the one in the middle of the Entrance, the Entrance Hotel is near the bridge. The Entrance Hotel has had its fair share of renovations over the years. Not sure if it’s still the case but it used to have the same owners as the Winston.

          1. John Eel

            They have “Taffy’s Sports bar” same owners as the Oaks on Military Road.

            I reckon that they have spent about $3mil during Covid. This includes new bottle shop pokies and an upgrade of the rest.

            The big screen I was talking about would have to be 6 metres long

          2. Milo

            Yes John thats the one i thought of. Now if they could just add a big screen to Kens Humble Pies….that would be about heaven for me.

          3. Milo

            Got it mate I think thats the one i meant. The one further up the road ( as you drive in before the stop sign) was a bit dodgy from memory……but I never stopped there much.

  5. Paul Taylor

    Great work as always mate. Wish you and your family a great christmas and even better 2023. The best thing about this site is that it has its own DNA and TCT doesn’t try to be anything that it is not. The quality of the posts remain top notch and it allows true eels supporters an insight into what is happening behind the curtains as they say.

    Congratulations once again – take care all and look forward to season 2023.



    1. sixties Post author

      Thanks PT. I hope you and your family have had a brilliant Christmas. Yes, we have not tried to change our identity at all, but simply aim to be better at how we cover the Eels as a club.

    1. sixties Post author

      You’re right, he is a unit and there were some big bodies in action in such young age groups. I don’t have his name Matthew, but even if I did, I probably wouldn’t give it. The reason being, there were over 140 young blokes trialling that day and they are just in the early stages of Parra’s pathway. We did grab a few names of players that caught the eye, but still didn’t add them to the post about the trial.
      That said, the Eels did publish the list of those in all of the pathways squads which gives them all some level of acknowledgement.

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