The Cumberland Throw

The Spotlight – March 13, 2023: It Can Be Done


“Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later, the man who wins is the man who thinks he can.” – Vince Lombardi

Could there be a better start to the NRL season than the Eels being 0/2, or zero from 6 if you include all three senior teams?

Of course I’m being facetious, though my question is most applicable to many who work in the rugby league media. A number would be absolutely salivating at the prospect of a failed season.

To be perfectly frank, the opinions of those who love death riding the Eels matter not one scrap to me. What’s important, and always will be, is the mindset of the players.

Should they doubt themselves, then there’s little point in having any interest in our prospects for this season. Success is not found by wallowing in negativity’s mud.

Right now, the doubts and fears of us, the supporters, do little to help the cause. Wherever I look, the sky is falling and I too am at risk of becoming lost in its dark clouds. The player group isn’t immune to it either as they can’t be sheltered from the poison pens.They have to front media calls where doubt filled questions will be thrown at them. Any interviews will always look to find a chink in their mindset.

The point is, things aren’t as dark as they may seem and there are reasons for having a positive mindset that must be embraced.

Will Penisini and Lumelume celebrate a rry

I’m not for a moment suggesting that any shortcomings be ignored, after all when Parra’s three senior grades have zero wins from the first two rounds, something isn’t working. And I’m not immune to the negativity malaise as I’ve sat through and reported on all six matches. The joy factor is low.

Results need to turn around but it won’t happen without some element of self belief.

Sure it would be easy for the coach or the playing group to adopt an “us against the world” siege mentality and fire up. But I’ll be damned if after two games I’m going to put the boot into my team. There are enough social media platforms, and even enough posts on TCT, for people to espouse their takes on why the Eels have lost their opening two matches and will therefore finish like 2018.

The overreactions from the last two weeks have been mind blowing. Criticism has been deserved, but when you go through the totality of responses you’d find it difficult to believe that it’s referring to a team that has just lost a couple of games against other final contenders that could so easily have gone the other way.

We’ve all witnessed some basics that aren’t executed, poor options taken and key players not being in sync across two rounds. So, there’s nothing to be gained from pointing the finger for substandard team performances at one or two players. Those thoughts run through my mind too but it doesn’t help any player looking to lift their game to feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulders.

Here’s a fact, not an excuse. There are 27 players currently on the roster, with at least three automatic selections unavailable due to injury or suspension. Even with everyone available, the squad needed to pick up a middle forward and an outside back to be complete. 

But despite the holes that currently exist in an incomplete roster, there is cause for positivity without resorting to the rose coloured glasses. The issues that need fixing are nothing new to our coach. He’s worked through that year after year. You only have to go back to last season and the outside back crisis that existed from having the likes of Dunster, Sivo and Russell out of action for lengthy periods.

And here’s another reminder about 2022. The Eels scraped through the first two rounds with a high scoring, narrow win over the Titans followed by a self inflicted, last minute loss against the Sharks. Is the 2023 early form very different?

Also, don’t lose sight of other facts about last season. By round 8 we had lost at CommBank Stadium to the Tigers and been embarrassed by the Cowboys in Darwin. That didn’t stop a top four finish and a surge to the decider.

In seeking a massive dose of positivity, we don’t have to invent causes for belief, as the evidence is there.

This moment was just four games ago

This club and team have provided many moments to celebrate and enjoy, especially over the last four seasons. There are reasons for that and a couple of less than stellar matches to begin the season should not give us cause for writing off our Eels.

The undeniable truth is that you don’t qualify for finals football as the Eels have without doing something very right. And you don’t play in a grand final if your players are rubbish.

Looking at our opponents this week, there is no shortage of talent. I said as much in the podcast. So, as an exercise, I tried to look at this Eels team from the perspective of an opposing coach composing a tip sheet and highlighting the threats posed. And there were plenty throughout the team.

But in this instance, I don’t want to be the one rattling off the dangers posed for any opponent of the Eels. I want you to list them. If you decide to share that in the replies below, much appreciated.

Maybe that will serve as a reminder for all of us about why we have cause to believe in our team. We need to remember why the Eels can do it, instead of why they can’t.

Be warned, any negative comments will be removed from the replies. I am being completely transparent that the purpose of this post is positivity. You have other posts available here and on other sites on which you can vent.

I look forward to reading your contributions.

Eels forever!






If you liked this article, you might consider supporting The Cumberland Throw.

31 thoughts on “The Spotlight – March 13, 2023: It Can Be Done

  1. Adam M.

    Great post Sixties👍

    The season is only 2 weeks old and already people are writing us off, wow! Let’s be honest, we have a new hooker and new 2nd row, plus the regulars missing for these first few games. In addition combinations are still developing and will take time.

    Yes we’ve lost the first 2 and that’s the point. Melbourne didn’t outplay us, we lost that game, the same with Cronulla. At full strength we win both.

    What I have noticed is the effort is there. Hopgood has been a shining light in particular.

    Can we make the 8, yes. Will we make the 8, you bet we will. It’s a long season and anything can happen of course, but you hit the nail on the head above belief. The players have it because they’ve been there before. They know what to do.

      1. Glenn

        Its not the losing so much as the manner of the loss. Piss poor defence and diabolical bench management are both things put squarely at the coach’s feet and ‘chasing the collision’ will not fix that. Bad defence has been our hallmark for 10 years now and counting. We’ll continue to win nothing unless that is fixed. BA owns that and should not have been extended for that reason imho.

        1. Glenn

          Read down further and should have included something positive to avoid the above post being deleted. The attack is good but I’m concentrating on what needs to be fixed for us to win a game, not on what is working properly.

  2. Prometheus

    I remember going to Cumberland in the 50’s and early 60’s when we got 8 wooden spoons in 10 seasons. This team and coach are not quite there yet.

      1. Prometheus

        Spark, footy was more fun in those days. It was always the atmosphere and the characters. Today its social media saying you can’t do this or do that. I appreciate I’m an old bastard.

        1. Spark

          Mate I went to my first game at Cumberland in ‘63, even played a few there. It’s a complicated world for sure.

      1. Tanky

        74 we came last in all 3 grades .the following year 1975 norm provan got us in a 3 way position for 5th in the playoffs we beat wests on the Tuesday Balmain on the Thursday and then beating Canterbury on the Saturday only to be beaten by manly the following week

      2. Joe Vass

        If you think our current recruitment strategies are questionable, I remember in 1972 our big signing was a soccer player from the south coast named John Archibald. The Advertiser article heralding the signing quoted someone from the club as saying that John has never played Rugby League but shows a lot of promise. He played one game. Very dark days.

  3. Spark

    Really ? It was a joke sixties…
    Is this a case of it’s my ball and you let me win or I go home ?
    Of course they are a good team, backed up with a solid administration – no one gets to a GF without being a very good package.
    If we play to our strengths, we can win.
    However if you truly believe that anything we say on YOUR blog has an effect on their performance as you have alluded to, you either have expectations of grandeur or they are in a worse position than the most critical fan could ever imagine.

    1. sixties Post author

      I didn’t delete your comment but as I have been busy today I had asked someone to monitor it and keep it positive as I requested so there you have it. I did laugh at comparing me to the Titanics Captain. The decks would have been very clean. So joke or no joke I wanted to keep this post positive, call it a bit of a safe place. Spark, you have posted enough times here over many years and debated enough times with me to not take that shot above. But I’m leaving it in because you’ve included a positive about the team. Your shot at me can stay. Now, lets not sidetrack this post.

      1. Glenn

        Sorry 60s but being positive is only covering the cracks. Call a spade a spade, supporters need to vent as well as celebrating a win. Unfortunately the latter looks a distant memory atm.

  4. Dave

    Nice article sixties
    We looked notchy in game 1 and our halves weren’t very good brown they more so cos Moses was pretty well taken out of it.
    2nd game a few dumb mistakes and a bit of ball hogging by Blake and an inexplicable hia for Gutho cost us that one. Surely we deserve some sort of explanation for this draw by the NRL 4 of the first 5 games against top 8 teams and 3 games with teams coming of the bye. We don’t get a bye until I think round 14 and a few teams have had 2 byes by then. Mattersons suspension kill us which was always a dumb call and Russell missing another season is the stuff nightmares are made of but in saying that we do have a squad that can bounce back and win. After 59 years of supporting I believe we will

  5. BDon

    Tks sixties, permit me a positive/negative…the average error rate across the NRL hovers around 10. The context in that is if both teams make around 10, don’t blame errors, but if it’s say 10-5, the lower number is excellent and that team will likely win. Our first loss had a lot to do with the ruck and how that fell into the Storm’s ways of winning, the 2nd loss we gave the ball back 16 times, that’s roughly every 5 minutes, or 5 sets or actually 2.5 sets just counting ours. This is not the way to win, it’s like a hole in a boat, gradually you’ll sink. The really good news is we have the capability, even with a weakened roster, to win against top sides, if we can bring our errors into a more reasonable frame. Even v Storm some real bloopers cost us. We are making errors that, quite frankly, we shouldn’t be, and when we reverse that we’ll look 100% better.

  6. pete

    Thanks Sixties for keeping the faith and a great read.

    I was critical of the performance last week
    36 missed tackles
    16 errors
    66% completions
    30 points let in.

    I didn’t agree that the effort was good. But BA has a role to play in keeping the players protected from themselves and not press the panic button. I don’t have that heavy responsibility (luckily).

    I was critical of Waqa and the bench in particular. Which really revolves around our recruitment and injury toll.

    I did have some positive statements as well to balance things.

    I just want us to learn from last year in those key stats mentioned.

    Back to back losses brings out my worst. So I’m hoping we can bounce back and use last week’s stat’s as fuel for tonight.

    Thanks again

    Go Eels!!

  7. Sec50

    Call me weird but I believe in the power of 10,000 butterfly sneezes. Sending only positive energy to our team tonight.

  8. Shaun

    Sure, not the best start to the season but I think we’ll be alright come the semi-finals. A few teams have come out of the blocks but sustaining that over the season will be tough. Parra played the long game last year and ended up in fourth and in the grand final. There are some things that need to fixed but this can be easily done. Parra aren’t buying into the narrative. They will be making one their own.

  9. Judge

    I’ve been an eels supporter for nearly 60 years, and played plenty of games of rugby and rugby league as a kid, teenager and adult. I have never before commented on any blog. Tonight was all on the coaching. We had Manly, seriously the team were on top, and physically over them. The problem is the players do not assert that dominance. That is a coaching issue, we do not have the necessary aggression needed to win a game, and it has been the same for the last 3 years. I am not anti Brad Arthur by any means. That said I think it must be accepted he just cannot get our boys to believe and get up and belt the opposition when the game is in the balance.We lost that game because of the coach.

      1. !0 Year Member

        No. It will not. We were grand finalists last year and every other team thinks we were pretenders……. The are coming after us and after 3 rounds…… They are proving that to be fact. With so many players making so many dumb decisions……. It must come down to the coaching staff. We cannot construct a set…… Let alone a game

        1. !0 Year Member

          For the life of me. What has been drilled into Dylan Brown’s head that he plays the ball so stupidly without a opposition player withing cooeee to hand over ball. Are we a bunch of comedians.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.