The Cumberland Throw

From The Stands – May 30, 2022: Helping Players To Achieve Their Potential

Two premiership points, it’s the goal of every round so let’s classify the match against the Cowboys as mission completed.

Outside of achieving that goal, the game itself was almost a microcosm of the Eels 2023 season thus far. A mix of some good play, some missed opportunities, an edge of the seat finish, injuries and questionable refereeing decisions, or perhaps that should read “non-decisions”.

For many seasons now, the Eels ability to win has been dictated by the forward pack. If they won that battle in the middle of the park, more often than not victory was secured.

But maybe that is changing?

I’m not suggesting that the forward battle is no longer crucial, far from it. But last Friday, Parra’s forwards played to a very simple game plan, one which basically kept the team in the contest.

Mitch Moses

It was the backs who then determined the match. They had a greater say in rucking the ball out, which was then supported by Mitch achieving good field position off his long kicks and Dylan getting the right balance between run, kick and pass.

This match also highlighted something which doesn’t receive enough credit – the improvement in players, or players lifting to levels that supporters or critics never expected.

I classify clubs into two categories:

a) Clubs which improve players

b) Clubs at which players regress 

Obviously, players have to be willing to be coached and they must put in the effort.

However, there can be no doubt that these Eels players are in an environment that challenges them to get better, expects them to work on deficiencies and has the coaches and staff with the expertise to foster that improvement.

When Mitch Moses arrived at the Eels, BA had to put Manu Ma’u alongside him as a minder in defence. Now try to remember the last time you worried about Mitch’s defence?

Wiremu Greig

When Wiremu Greig began his time in Reserve Grade at Parra in 2021 he was tired after five minutes, slow at marker and a liability in defence. I would never have thought that he could get into his current physical shape where he can play 50 minutes as a starting prop in first grade, and do so very effectively.

Now consider the form of Bryce Cartwright? Who would ever have thought that he would become consistent with defence and be able to get the balance right in attack?

The list of players who have improved at the Eels, to the point where their market price and cap pressure makes it impossible to keep them, is very long. Case in point, the list of departing players at the end of 2022. The numbers are too great for it to be classified as luck or just hard work by the players.

It must be driven by the creation of an environment lead by highly skilled coaches and support staff who dedicate themselves to helping players achieve their potential.

And as the first grade team enjoys a well earned rest this week, those coaches and staff will be working on the rehabilitation and return of key players, looking at what needs to be refined or improved, and planning and preparing for upcoming rounds.

It’s why players become better, much better, when they make PARRAdise their home.


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6 thoughts on “From The Stands – May 30, 2022: Helping Players To Achieve Their Potential

  1. Longfin Eel

    Interesting points Shelley. It’s as if Parra have finally turned a corner and now play much smarter. In the past, games were won on the back of sheer physical effort. Those types of games are not sustainable, and we saw a lot of inconsistency throughout the season. It seems to be much improved this season – let’s hope we can continue the upward trend.

    1. Ron

      I agree with this. A tweak to our “forward heavy” and physical style of play was long overdue. The inconsistency in performance came from inconsistency in our ability to get up physically every game which seemed to be our only plan of attack each week. We need to, and have started to, be a little smarter with energy exertion whilst maintaining the physicality and forward dominance. That has involved the backs helping out more but I still think we need speed in outside backs and then to reassess once we have full complement of players back. Also, our defence is still shaky (injuries don’t help with defensive combinations but we stunk in defence pre injuries aswell)

  2. Anonymous

    A highlight of my week is reading informed measured analysis from TCT

    There’s no outrage or colour blind lazy bleating you’re just always on the mark. This latest insight is bang on target 🎯

    PS Andrew Johns is such a lazy bunch of cliches when it comes to commentary.

    Give me Billy Slater any day for quality analysis.

    I can’t watch the game on 9 anymore

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