The Cumberland Throw

Parramatta 2023 – A Diagnosis (Autopsy) Of The Season, Part 3: What Lies Ahead?

The first two posts in this series examined the current roster and the impact of injuries and suspensions. It highlighted the lack of depth and options in key positions, and discussed the resulting pressures throughout 2023 as the team attempted to cover for what became significant absences.

It made for a negative review that I rightly labelled an autopsy.

However, moving forward an even darker picture is emerging and it’s based on nothing but the facts.

Our Eels have capitulated over the latter stages of this season, the resilience is non existent, and a glance at the crystal ball does not make for pleasant viewing.

As things stand, the major change to Parramatta’s roster moving into 2024 is that the players will all be a year older. There are no major recruits and the top 30 is as close to done as you’d want with this season still playing out.

According to my research, the following players are locked in for a top 30 deal next year. Their ages in 2024, along with the year their current contract expires (not including options), are included in the brackets.


Reagan Campbell-Gillard (31, 2025), Bryce Cartwright (30, 2025) , Andrew Davey (33, 2024), Matt Doorey (24, 2025), Wiremu Greig (25, 2026), J’maine Hopgood (25, 2025), Shaun Lane (30, 2026), Makahesi Makatoa (31, 2024), Toni Mataele (22, 2025), Ryan Matterson (30, 2026), Jirah Momoisea (26, 2024), Jack Murchie (27, 2024), Joe Ofahengaue (29, 2025), Junior Paulo (32, 2026), Ky Rodwell (25, 2024)


Outside Backs

Zac Cini (24, 2024), Haze Dunster (25, 2025), Will Penisini (22, 2025), Sean Russell (22, 2025), Bailey Simonsson (26, 2024), Maika Sivo (31, 2025)


Daejarn Asi (24, 2024), Dylan Brown (24, 2025), Clint Gutherson (30, 2025), Brendan Hands (25, 2025), Joey Lussick (29, 2025), Mitchell Moses (30, 2026)

Mitch Moses

Here’s the harsh reality.

As things stand, the Eels already have 27 of the top 30 locked in. That could be perceived as achieving stability.

Or, with all of those players currently part of a squad that will not play finals football in either NRL or NSW Cup, would it be more accurate to label it as a roster in stagnation or probably in decline?

The holes in the list above are glaring.

There were only seven specialist outside backs in 2023. In 2024, with space available for no more than three recruits, that number drops to six players and includes Zac Cini who moves from a Development Contract to a top 30 deal.

As a reminder, Cini has been unable to force his way into the top grade in 2022 or 2023.

Now consider the spine options. There are six players to cover four positions. There is no recognised back up for Gutho at fullback and outside of Brendan Hands shifting back to the halves, Daejarn Asi is the only cover for Moses or Brown.


And this is an ageing roster.

The average age for the roster comes in at just over 27, and that figure also conceals that up to eight of the likely starting 13 will be turning 30 or older in 2024.

Should the Eels bite the bullet and accelerate the pathways players?

I believe that the club is getting it right with developing young players of the future. There is a terrific mix of local products and they’ve identified and added promising regional and interstate players to the age teams. Outside of the upcoming loss of Ethan Sanders to the Raiders, last year’s loss of Michael Gabrael to the Bulldogs and Myles Martin shifting to the Knights in 2021, most of the key talent is tied to the club.

Next year, I expect a number to advance to NSW Cup. Identifying NRL players in their junior years is an inexact science. So many factors can prevent them from fulfilling their potential. There are first graders in the current crop of young players but they probably won’t become a presence in the top grade until 2025 and beyond.

Perhaps the main thing to review with our pathways players relates to Development Contracts. I believe that all such contracts should be exclusively for them and not for fringe external recruits, especially those who are not close to NRL selection.

Which leaves 2024 with a roster that is a year older and arguably in decline.

I’m unable to comment on the state of the salary cap. With the huge coin invested in retentions, there might be little left for any significant recruitment. If that’s the case, then the only way to add a major recruit or two would come from parting ways with players under contract. Tough calls might have to be made.

And if there is minimal money left in the cap, and all contracts are honoured, then we can only expect bargain signings to complete the roster. That’s not good enough.

Parramatta has to bite the bullet and chase hard for a player or two who can change the trajectory of the immediate future. The Broncos added Rhys Walsh and it’s taken them to a new level. All of the promise of other players has been realised but Walsh is the ignition point.

If the Eels continue to decline, they become a harder sell to potential quality recruits. A shiny new centre of excellence won’t get a target across the line if the club continues its current practices.

It stings all Eels supporters to see our team slump from grand finalists to also rans in 2023. And as things stand, with the next preseason less than three months away, a repeat dose of the bitter pill we’ve all just swallowed probably awaits us all.


Eels forever!



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134 thoughts on “Parramatta 2023 – A Diagnosis (Autopsy) Of The Season, Part 3: What Lies Ahead?

  1. George Zivkovic

    Spot on analysis! I’ve supported Parra for over 60 years & what’s going on at the moment simply isn’t good enough. Luckily we still have Moses & Gutho! Your last paragraph nails the problem.

  2. Anonymous

    My 3,2,1, 3.worst roster comp 2. Oldest roster in comp. 1slowest roster in comp , special mention for worst managed salary cap in comp , all in all an unprofessional mess .

  3. Colin Hussey

    Sixties, I looked forward to last nights game, but did not take long after the first try by the other mob to see where we were heading.

    I went to bed with 25 odd minutes in the 2nd half as I was gagging badly and felt I had seen enough I woke this morning to find the eels had scored 2 tries — WOW! I guess it was something in a nothing game for the eels.

    Sitting back in reflection it remains the same as last night was terrible, however, I make this vow, I will never watch any NRL game especially one that has that so called ref in charge of any eels or other match again. I thought we had enough one sided refs in the past few years but I feel we have at 2 – 3 that should be whitewashed out of the roles, likewise I doubt the bunker should be kept either, for me I am swearing off any match from next season should these refs be in positions that show their bias against the eels overall.

    The other mob, made a mockery of the eels in the way they played which did not help either, its one thing to lose but another to feel the anger of the players and eels supporters but, its another thing to be so cock smart that they think they have the ref in their hands, which I wonder is pretty close to truth.

    The loss of Moses did not help but at least he tried and wanted to stay on the field even with his facial injury, he showed the quality that he deserves, and for me I want to see others take over with him going into next .

    The eels team needs to have a serious look at themselves as a whole group, especially those who want to stay, any wanting to leave, should be allowed to do so but, they leave their wages behind as well.

    The aspect of BA would show that we need a very strong and qualified assistant coach, that has the role of not just training the players but, strengthening them, as well as providing pointers that will stick with the team throughout the ensuring season.

    This year and the end of it should set a real example for players, coaches and especially our so called administration officials as they also need to put up much better. Having followed the eels for over 60 years, through thick and thin I want to continue in that vein going forward.

    1. sixties Post author

      Thanks Anon. I have Asi down as turning 24 in August next year. I’ve recorded all of their ages in that way – the age that they turn at some point in 2024.

  4. luk3182

    I would like to see how we go with a full strength side next year. We will go the entire year without playing our 1st string side all year. I do however think nothing short of a top four finish will keep the wolves at bay for the coach. Will be such a shame but at some point you might need a circuit breaker.

    1. sixties Post author

      We will compete with the full strength team but we won’t win a title and we know that any injury or suspension in certain positions puts our roster under pressure

  5. West Coast Eel

    I remember at the time thinking maybe we should’ve prioritized Papali’i and Nuikore over Paulo and possibly RCG. As good as our front rowers were going at the time, their age worried me. Seems like Davey and Ofahengaue were signings to help with our struggles this year, but could come back to bite us in the remaining years of their contracts. We definitely need an X factor in the back line. Penisini has the potential, but he needs help. It’s not all doom and gloom though. I think our halves are still one of the best combos in the comp. If they are to succeed in 2024, they are going to need a fit roster around them. Depth is going to be an issue for the next 24 months. Depressed for 37 years and counting…..

    1. sixties Post author

      We have to add a strike player. And more backs West Coast. At best we are competitive next year. At worst or with players out – I refer you to last night

      1. West Coast Eel

        I’d love a strike player, but where is he gonna come from? I know Zac Lomax was given permission to negotiate. I don’t know if that still stands. Is he a ‘strike player’ though. Maybe negotiate with Canberra. Give sanders an early release and try for Xavier savage?

        1. sixties Post author

          There are options and I reckon the Eels have identified them. Just have to pull the trigger and make it happen.

  6. Spark

    To answer your question – yes. We have to accelerate the progression of the kids. Show other clubs that we will do so and pick up the shining lights languishing in thier lower grades just dying for a chance.
    The gold is in the young kids!

    1. sixties Post author

      The gold is there Spark but they aren’t ready for next year yet. Plus we still need a strike player or the drought doesn’t end

      1. Brett Allen

        The drought isn’t breaking in 2024 60’s, that’s abundantly clear, but 2025 can be the year where we climb back into the top shelf. That means bringing in young guys now who will be overwhelmed in their first year but will be better for it in 25, 26 and onwards. That means sone really hard decisions have to be made. The club needs to cut loose a few fringe and/or ageing forwards to bring in some youth to our backline. So, that means, good bye Murchie, Davey, Momoisea, Makatoa, Rodwell, Waqa to start with. We then promote Penisini jnr, Blaize, Mataele, Brazel and one or two more. They aren’t ready, but that’s a luxury we no longer possess. We have to get younger, hungrier, quicker, more athletic. We then need to send out our scouts to go and recruit the best young talent at every position between the ages of 14-16 and load up our Harold Matt’s team, and then do the same thing for our SG Ball team. That should be our youth policy every year.

        1. sixties Post author

          I’m not saying that we won’t see a player or two from the pathways get a debut at some stage. But they need to have more NRL ready players as options next season and get that strike player. By the way Waqa is gone and I suspect that your list is under examination.

          1. Brett Allen

            What I really want to know 60’s is who on the R&R committee was the driver of this policy of signing retreads ?
            I doubt we’ll ever know, but again this highlights the issues with how our roster management is done. If everyone has a say then no one is responsible or accountable. If everyone is responsible, then no one is accountable. Everyone hides behind each other.

      2. Brett Allen

        And at the risk of flogging the same horse, this is yet another benefit of a rookie draft, because it forces teams to continually regenerate with young talent rather than relying on retreads.

        1. John Eel

          Brett agree with what you are saying. We can no longer keep players in KOE Cup who are never going to be in the NRL side.

          These players are taking up spots that are stopping players with real potential getting learning time in Cup.

          I get that there must be older players with experience and ability to mentor the younger players but they must be players that BA is willing to promote to NRL if required. That is not the case now.

          1. Brett Allen

            Agreed. The Jordan Rankin situation is a case in point. He should have been retired 18 months ago.

  7. Pou

    The fact is we’ve made the finals for four straight years, culminating in a grand final. We peaked and it’s understandable that the salary cap would bite eventually. For future peaks to be higher we need to wait for the pathways to do their job.

    1. sixties Post author

      Pou, we need to add quality experience now for those pathways to work. Look at the age of the key players.

      1. Pou

        The key players are the right age for mentoring, and contracted long enough that we wouldn’t be able to replace them if we wanted to. Brown, Penisini, Russell, Hands and Hopgood will all be better next year, so it’s not every player on the decline. Not all doom and gloom, but we definitely peaked last year.

        1. Squeel

          Seriously pou ? Most are too old and slow for current pace of todays game not to mention our casualty rates, time to face reality , did you see our line speed , thats a major indicator of older tired athletes I’m afraid .

          1. Pou

            Yeah we need to recruit some quicker middle forwards. But it probably won’t be for 2024.

          2. Achilles' Eel

            Except the moment we find ourselves these quicker middles the NRL will have changed the rules to slow the game right down again! We might need to invest in a seer first, to keep up with the whims and fancies of HQ.

          3. Ron

            Maybe we push junior to bench with matto and wiremu and get an agile, defensively sound prop to start with rcg?

          4. Achilles' Eel

            The only thing I’d really like to see us try is to swap Dylan and Gutho around for these last two games and see what comes of it. We need genuine pace on our attacking plays and Dylan was running well last night. In fact, with a bit of luck, he could have scored three or four tries. I’m thinking that he might provide for us what Reece Walsh does for the Broncos.

          5. Wally21

            I hate to say this, but Paulo and Matterson are the players I would shop around. Hopefully, Greig and Joe O (after a preseason) could give us 95% of what they offer for half (or less) the cost. Matto’s accountability is not where it needs to be and Junior is on the decline.

          6. BDon

            The only thing I”ll say about Matterson, he has a quiet achiever element to him. Every time I check to see who was doing all the work, Mattersons stats come up surprisingly well. Hopgood and Hands do heaps and Carty was starting to get in the frame, but Matterson always there. That 3 game thing was a blot on all concerned however.
            Fittler made the call on Junior,it is essential he be managed for his strengths, big minutes not his go and needs to work on leg speed and fitness to contribute as an impact player.I think he still can.

  8. Jack Saunders

    Good read sixties! I love these kinda post.
    I think the club should kick into gear and do what Gus Gould does and start pushing some of these players out if they aren’t needed.
    I look at our back row stokes and I see way to many – jack munchie, Andrew Davey, Matt Doorey, momosiea. With the rise of charlie geyumer and jock brazel Into nsw cup I think we could afford to let some of these guys go. Imo I would offering out jack murchie. Davey, momosiea to super league clubs or nrl clubs.
    As for the outside back role we I think we need to go after Justin olam on a 2 year deal, apparently the storm are offering him out and his at the age where he still has a year or 2 left before the likes of blaze and Richard penisini come through.

    I know Dylan is a brilliant 5/8 and his defence is awesome but I wonder if the club ever thought about keeping sanders putting brown at fullback and playing gutho at 5/8

    1. sixties Post author

      Cheers Jack, there is plenty of work going into preparing those young players. They will be first grade players in my opinion. But I’m being realistic in assessing when they’ll be genuine NRL options. I also like Toni Mataele as a middle – he’s switched there since dropping back to Flegg and is smashing it.

  9. Ron

    Another cracking post – well done 60s. Although it’s a tough read, it makes clear that we have sucked the lemon dry with this crop/forward dominan/bash and barge style of footy (like 2017). And if we don’t improve or change the squad to suit the new style of footy with bigger, more athletic outside backs or get some strike or both we will just be stuck hovering at bottom of the eight or out of it (circa 2018). I suppose it’s over the hapless eels recruitment and retention team to find ways to move people on or sign people to fill obvious gaps and (perhaps I’m being ambitious) actually improve positions for once instead of giving ba big average/below average reserve graders to turn into gold. We aren’t far off but we aren’t close either.

    1. Squeel

      Agree ron , recruitment failing coaching staff but recruitment , ceo and board will all keep thier jobs , coaching staff always the scapegoats , Board more interested in image and business model than football team , SAD.

      1. Ron

        I don’t know the inner workings well but I’m okay with the Board not being too involved in recruitment and footy department as long as they provide adequate resources to the football department (we clearly need some more resources – I.e a wrestling coach for starters and more third party appeal for future signings). It seems the blame mainly falls on mark O’Neil and his team. I hasten to add that BA doesn’t get off scott free in this recruitment/retention shit show but it’s clear he doesn’t get what he wants and isn’t really involved in money figures/negotiations. We works with what he’s give but he has also put trust in some players that it was clear he shouldn’t have. I think in medium term I’d like ba to move into another role in club as he’s a great club man and get a new voice into the coaching position. But, for now, he is the best person for the job.

        1. Anonymous

          No one gets off scot free but a ceo and board over ruling the coach is the stg and tigers model and thats going on here full stop .maybe if the voice of the coach was being heard above board and ceo .

          1. Spark

            Maybe … but if you have a look at the types of backs that BA is trying to get … they all fit the same mold- big with good potential for rucking out of the red zone and who fit into his ‘forward power game mantra’
            The problem with these types of players are that they usually lack lateral and off the mark acceleration.
            Haven’t we got these types of players already at the club ?
            BA has been quite vocal about the players he wants – Corey Allen, Arron Schloupp etc.. may as well just promote Zac Cini !
            Just got to get away from these types.
            Maybe the R&R have recognised this and said to BA that we need to go in another direction?
            I hope so. BUT
            I do agree with you. If there is a disconnect between the R&R and the coach that will spell disaster moving forward.

          2. Anonymous

            Agree some points with you , speed ,speed and more speed needed for me , dont have to be huge if they cant catch you, saw it last night , happy just make the tackle we were .

          3. Ron

            Agreed. And that’s why I personally believe that mark O’Neill bears responsibility. It’s his job to take what BA says he wants and check whether that is good for the team in present and future. If mark O’Neil is overruling ba re: these outside bigger, slower backs like shoupp (who I have said previously isn’t the right player for us for reasons that include what you said above) or a smith shields loan off injury etc then good. But mark O’Neil has to come up with something else for ba. He has not and that why I point to him. It’s his job to plan and manage this for present + future while head coach focuses more on present needs.

          4. Spark

            I believe it was reported but may or may not have been correct. But he’s the sort of player Brad loves !

          5. Spark

            Calm down -it WAS reported that we were looking at him. As I said, it may or may not have been correct. Can we just post without the personal insult ?

          6. Anonymous

            Different when your questioning players ability on open forum , think they might take that as a personal insult sport , hypocritical stance .

          7. John Eel

            Both Panthers and Broncos have the big rucking out backs. Takes some of the work load off the Middles and allows them to focus more on middle defence.

            Works well for Panthers.

        2. Wally21

          But is the coach not getting the team he wants??? Sorry, I don’t buy this. The CEO, Head Of Football and coach have to be accountable and drive accountability. It’s time for a chance to our culture and it has to start with those 3 positions

  10. Anonymous

    Get Roger Fabri speed coach in next year for some speed and agility runs he could help improve everyone’s speed and acceleration

    1. Anonymous

      Agree.. We have probably the slowest back 5 in the comp. Fabri should be employed by the club as part of strength and conditioning and Junior development.
      We didn’t sign Dominic Young. We let Marzew go.
      We didn’t replace Opacic or Jennings for that matter.
      We planned on keeping Waqa in the squad even after last year’s nightmare performance.
      Dunster injured and slower than Russell. Russell also coming back from big injury. Simmonson and Sivo coming back from injury?? Recruitment was absolutely neglegent to do this to the club.
      The poor recruitment cost us a GF when we needed a big bopper we couldn’t sign one.

  11. James

    I don’t think there’s much between teams 3-12 in this comp as is evidenced by the ladder.
    I think it’s absolutely imperative they add some outside backs of first grade quality and commit to a total overhaul of their defensive systems. The defence isn’t good enough . The side misses a tonne of tackles every week , whatever their policy is in regards to the play the ball the opposition is playing it too quick.. and having reliance on scramble and Gutho filling the line to stop try’s every week because the edges have been stripped isn’t the defence of a top 5 side.
    There a more than enough quality forwards on this roster .. a largely representative spine . A gun defensive fullback , a brilliant defensive 5/8 and a half back that can control field position .. yet the defence leaks at every opportunity. Obviously part of that is having some depth and competency in the outside backs , but I believe the buck stops with BA. Sort out the defence over the offseason , improve it throughout the season.. or start looking for a job further than 7 minutes from home imo. Webster has shown it can be done.

      1. Anonymous

        Our coach is old and lacking thought movement if you ask me.

        I actually think the ‘strike’ in the Penrith side is overstated. Crichton gives them a bit of strike but To’o, Edwards, Tago , Turuva etc are workhorse backs that do everything at a high level . They don’t win games 30-28 against teams like the Broncos .. they have elite defensive systems with everyone working their asses off and doing their job at a high level. Everyone knows their role and they roll their sleeves up and get to it .
        They are the benchmark and while we won’t get there in an off-season geez there needs to be defensive improvement in both decision making, systems and effort. Penisni is the most talented back in the side but the number of concentration lapses , poor decisions or straight up missed tackles in his game needs to be addressed. Russell has absolutely no idea – he’s young but he hasn’t been taught how to fulfil his role as a winger at nrl level .. we need a lot of work .

        1. Spark

          Taking about coaching, I’m increasing the pain watching the girls in the NRLW game. The Broncos have two girls sent to the sin bin basically at the same time and the Eels have absolutely no idea what to do.
          They have dropped the ball on the first tackle at least 5 times and have no structure.
          I really don’t know what Widders and Patmore have done with the side, the team certainly arnt coached to any standard.
          Like the NRL side, the team is littered with ‘last chance saloon’ players and park players that can’t get a run at other clubs, players the club believe we can apply the ‘moneyball’ principle and turn them into something they arnt.
          We need a big broom !

  12. MickB

    A confronting read, but good insights 60s.

    I wonder if a switch of Gutho to 5/8 and Brown to fullback would be better – plucking some talent out of reserve grade elsewhere or maybe the ESL?

    In addition to a number of our general “worker” forwards, I’d probably move Junior on. His offloading point of difference seems to be largely gone (and we have plenty of that), he’s on big dough, other teams would value him and we’d be better off spending more of his coin on some outside backs who will add a point of difference.

    1. sixties Post author

      Gutho probably has his future at centre if the Eels could find a genuine strike fullback. Dylan doesn’t really suit the fullback position for one key reason – communication. The fullback role requires organisation of the defence and staying focussed for 80 minutes. Dylan is a tremendous talent but those aspects aren’t his strengths.

  13. Mark Camman

    I think that our recruitment needs a big shake up.
    We need to let go of several.players IMO. JA has transferred to Manly; Waqa Blake is on his,way to Super League and hopefully Josh Hodgson will get a medical discharge. I know it might sound harsh but I don’t think we will miss any of those players.
    Other players who seem surplus to requirements IMO are Dunster, Davey, Murchie, Doorey, Mateili, Mimosiea, Lumelume. I’m not sure Davey has the fire power and destructive running that we need if BA insists on the bash and barge style he seems intent on playing. Dinster has had a few games now in the top grade and seems to be a good finisher but doesn’t have the size or strength that many other wingers have or blistering speed. I think you need one or the other
    As for the others they haven’t impressed enough to earn a regular first grade spit or put pressure on players in the Top 17 who are under performing.
    I didn’t see Luca,Moretti’s name on the list but he would be a keeper IMO.
    We need a couple of big, mobile no nonsense forwards and we definitely need more speed out wide.
    Unfortunately I don’t think that there are many players out there to recruit.

    1. sixties Post author

      Mark, I believe that Luca is on a Dev deal next season. Haze is bigger than you think and if he can get past a couple of injuries he will be worth keeping. This next preseason will be critical for him. Lumelume is on a second tier deal so doesn’t impact the cap. Doorey will be a good one.

  14. LakeEEL

    Thank you for a very astute summary of our position, as much as we don’t like the situation we the devoted fans can do zero about it. Frustrating is one word that I would use but usually with a tirade of expletives preceeding it. The only positive aspect of the next few games for me is I can now say “feck it” and not bother wasting time with pre game anticipation and enthusiasm.

  15. BDon

    Great read sixties. Initially, do we need to panic in the forwards in the short term? We had a shocker in the ‘luck’ department this year. A starting pack of RCG,Junior,Lussick/Hands,Lane,Matterson and Hopgood should be highly competitive with Greig, Carty, Moretti, Joe O, Makatoa and Doorey in first line support, but with Junior to be managed for quality not quantity of minutes. We still need to do a mini clean out and identify at least one middle and one edge forward.
    Our spine is top quality and is always hard to back up( the Sanders thing), Hands has appeal here, and surely the coaching staff have now had a chance to review Asi at NRL level
    Wingers and centres need the most adjustment, Penisini is suddenly being harshly judged, don’t agree with that, a better roster and defensive system improvement will see him at his next level. Can’t Sivo be sorted?? He can do everything but unfortunately in different games. The rest needs a substantial upgrade,Russell and Simmonsen are depth players.
    The notion of elevating a couple of younger pathways players should be fostered. Ask Bob O’Reilly what and who he thinks might work there.

    1. sixties Post author

      Cheers BDon. I don’t think it’s a matter of panic with the forwards, simply that a clean out is necessary. Right now, we have almost no backline options and stop gap spine measures. That has to change. The work is already being done to prepare the young players who might be the closest to NRL. But they aren’t the only answer.

  16. Anonymous

    A somber read Sixties with nothing I can disagree with. Haven’t lived in Sydney since mid-1982 so I don’t get to see the junior games like I did in my youth. So I find it difficult to comment on the names often mentioned as potential first graders. I just hope I see some of those names playing good football in the coming years for the Eels.

    How to get improvement next year, given what you have provided here, is difficult to figure out. I know a lot of talk surrounds getting some decent outside backs and that seems fair. But our forwards seem to have been cut up a fair few times this year as well. I lost count of the number of times Cardigan got an inside pass last night and made an easy 10-15 metres. I know the officiating didn’t help but we have to adapt. I don’t know how we fix that.

    1. Namrebo

      Sorry, forgot to include my name. Still getting used to typing on something without a ribbon and keys 😞

    2. sixties Post author

      We were definitely ponderous last night. Their second phase and passing game carved us. My main point with this post is to simply show the facts of where the roster sits for next year. People can read it and make up their own mind. Some people want to question my motives. I’m not sure why.

  17. Erbs68

    Exceptional facts and another great read, but what I am really struggling with our defence structures if there is one?

    The team has proved that it can score tries, but our middles, edges and wingers time and time again are lost an ineffective in defence.

    Penisini, Russell, Simonsson, Sivo, Blake, would are consistently in no mans land, rush up and in and come up with nothing.

    This for me has to be. priority going into 2024 regardless of what roster we have.

    1. sixties Post author

      I won’t disagree about how poorly we have defended in recent weeks. We are employing a different structure in 2023 and also did copious work on individual technique through the preseason.

      1. Erbs68

        Individual technique is one thing (as proven with Carty) but team work, trusting your inside man and communication in defence is another.

    2. John Eel

      A lot are focusing on our defence and it needs work no doubt. What bothers me is the errors we are committing. The good teams don’t do it but we do and have done it since the beginning of the season.

      Early in the season we played Panthers. We achieved possibly our best stats for the season with our error count. We beat the Panthers as a result.

      Against the Dragons we went up 26-20. Dragons then made an error defending at their own end. With 3 or 4 minutes to go, Eels seemed to be running into the middle to setup a field goal attempt.

      That would have given us a 7 point lead. Matterson tried to offload in front of the posts and knocked on. As a result we gave the Dragons a sniff of golden point. Sums up much of our season.

      1. Milo

        Good point John, it’s a big difference between our best and worst performances.
        Bad choices
        Retention have all been factors for me along with not fixing ruck/ edge defence

  18. sixties Post author

    You’re flooding the comments again Chief like the broken record that we banned years ago.

  19. Shelley

    When looking at the non depth in our outside backs big questions must be asked directed towards the person who puts the top 30 together. In our top 30 last year we had Hayze Perham, Tom Opacic and importantly Marata who could and did play centre very well. All three left and we replaced them with Adi who is more a half, at least that has become his role.
    It really was not hard to see the situation unfold. I think we have two options and one is more realistic. We need a stable, reliable centre or winger, dare say like Opacic. You could blood a young kid around a seasoned footballer.
    For me I don’t trust the person in charge of recruitment because if he really did not see the almost certain mess he was overseeing , after his primary job the one he gets paid to do is recruiting and retention. BA and O’Neill have other primary jobs they are responsible for. How can he, the head of recruitment be trusted to fix what he blindly created.
    However a second question needs to asked: Was BA happy and did he agree with the squad composition. Whatever the answer there needs to be an immediate response. If yes I also don’t trust his judgement anymore either and if no ( he did not like or want the squad) serious questions need to be asked about who has what say going forward.

    It is telling that even with injuries BA has not played some recruits for this year or guys who are in the Top30. To me that says a lot.
    This is a big test for the ceo as he must be able to see who is the problem because there is obviously a disconnect between what BA wants and needs. To me it is clear that some players are in our Top 30 that BA will not pick ( as a coach has the right to do) and therefore why were they signed.

    1. sixties Post author

      I believe that there is a disconnect, but only the club can answer that for certain. The thing that I didn’t touch in this post because it was covered in the first was the slowness in getting contracts done. I think the processes have been part of the reason for not signing people that the Eels have targeted. Furthermore, as I have said in this post, there comes a time when we have to open up the recruitment purse strings. Quality comes with a price tag. That’s just how it is, especially if we can’t offer extra incentives.

    2. Ron

      Well put Shelley. It’s a murky state of affairs and hopefully there’s some accountability and insight into these issues soon

    3. Brett Allen

      As I understand it Shelley, all five members of the recruitment & retention committee, Chairman, CEO, GM, HC & Recruitment manager), have to be agree on every decision. So if that’s the case it means that BA agreed with every decision.

  20. Milo

    Great and honest read Sixties.
    We need to make some hard calls for 2025…I believe we need to do what Penrith did and move on at least one or two big paying players. For me I’d look at possibly Matto / Junior and know some will hound me but I feel we can’t sustain the money 💰 being paid. Surely Blake is gone too….
    Mongrel prop for me and a back.

    1. sixties Post author

      Cheers Milo. You can see that Waqa is not listed in the roster for next year. But the thing is, that actually reduces the confirmed outside backs. They need more than six outside backs for a season. There’s still time but who’s out there? How much money is available? Are we only buying back ups for who’s already there because we are sticking with them as first choice or is BA going to be given options for selection?

      1. Milo

        Thanks mate, if I was BA it would need to be my show as my heads on the line…otherwise I can go and be an assistant with Des etc on the goldy.
        Seriously though the coach should have final say…and the bean counters obviously ensure he’s not going over the cap.
        We need one centre for me and I’d be looking at a younger strike type.
        I’m also open for a FB and Gutho to make a move over next season but only if the FB ticks the boxes.
        The depth players we have in Reggie’s haven’t aimed up…so we need to move them on if we can / move on heavy capped player/s.

    1. sixties Post author

      Davey turns 33 next year. Stefano should have been extended at the start of the season we lost him, Ice should have been extended when he showed that he was a quality player. The club acknowledged they should have done so, and hence they extended Hopgood early this year so as not to face the same scenario. Oregon got an offer above what the club would pay.

      1. sixties Post author

        Development deal I believe for next season. You’d have to shed a currently contracted player to make him top 30. Maybe they’ll do that. Those three available spots are needed for the backs and the spine.

    2. sixties Post author

      Of course coaches end up meeting with key recruits during the process. Players meet with the coach, tour the facilities, meet players. Marty Taupau did that and was due to start. Somehow he didn’t – he got a better contract at the last minute. Hopgood was targeted. BA wanted him. Its well documented.
      People have this belief that because BA wants his forwards to chase the collision that he doesn’t want backs? That’s such a simplified take on his comments. Look at what all teams have to do in yardage. The back five are instrumental. And there’s no point in winning the middle if you don’t have the backs to capitalise. There’s no point in having zero options because you can’t drop players when you have nobody else to select.

  21. Offside

    Unfortunately we don’t have an upside coming up
    I can only hope that changes happen at as a whole from the top down this year has been a failure our recruitment to start the season was bad our mid season recruitment was surprisingly bad.
    Our weak weak performances we had a terrible weakness not fixed no team concedes more tries to opposition wingers yet our structures never change

    We need more than a change of coach we need a better culture
    Players run the team from contract negotiations and player options

    Matto suspension instead of a fine
    Dylan getting a light suspension for a offence like he pleaded guilty to
    Then the lack of engagement from the players with the fans particularly the kids.

    We need a cultural change

    1. Joe Vass

      Spot on ‘Offside’. I have been stewing after our performance (not the loss which I expected) on Friday trying to find the right words. You have said it all for me. Mid season recruitment we sign Davey who at the age of 31 has played less than 50 NRL games. Joe O couldn’t get a regular start at the Tigers. Couple of red flags there I would have thought.

      The off season recruitment of Hodgson was a knee jerk reaction to the loss of Mahoney and has had the inevitable result. Momosiea couldn’t make it at Newcastle when they were struggling. He is not even State Cup standard.

      Contrary to what was said earlier by ‘Sixties’we have not changed our defensive structure. Our edge defence remains pathetic. I don’t like knocking BA because we were a basket case when he took over but just maybe after reaching the GF last year climbing the mountain again is asking too much.

      The suspensions for both on and off field incidents highlight a lack of discipline. What’s behind it perhaps relates to players having too much familiarity with the current environment and becoming complacent. The fans particularly season ticket holders who year after year spend big money renewing their membership deserve better.

    1. sixties Post author

      Spoke to Haze last week after training. He’s aiming to get back for the last game of the year.

  22. Electric Analysis

    We have too many forwards in our top 30. Surely we are looking to offload Moimesia, Mataele and even Rodwell to other clubs or ESL so we can strengthen our spine and outside backs depth.

    1. Ron

      Getting rid of Momoseia, Rodwell, Davey, murchie, makatoa, Ogden, lumelume, Blake, cini would be a good start.

      1. Electric Analysis

        If we signed Davey for like 200k. Than he is fine for a back up backrower since Carty and Lane are our first choice. Plus Doorey has shown he has potential there and Matto covers it as well. Having Davey for next year is fine especially since it gives Brazel and Guymer a year of NSW Cup to get ready.

        Makatoa and Odgen will be on low money. I thought Ogden games off the bench were great. He just isnt a starter. You need these sort of players in your top 30 to help the cap and experience.

        Agreed, Fuck Lumelume, Momoseia and Blake off.

        Cini is interesting one. I think he needs to go back to the wing in NSW Cup.

        Rodwell reached his ceiling and with Maka and Ogden at the club he should be removed.

        I must say that Murchie has been one off the most disappointing signings for me. He has shown glimpses of great potential at warriors and raiders. So, I thought under BA who is great at developing forwards, he would be our 2023 Ice. I could easily see Murchie asking for a release to go to the ESL or another NRL club.

      2. Anonymous

        Add a few more to that, simmonson , Russell , backups at best but needed , its the big money players we need to look at , junior hot n cold , matto overpaid ,

      3. sixties Post author

        Ogden is off contract (club option for 2024), Lumelume is second tier so no cost to the cap, Blake is off contract.

  23. Electric Analysis

    I really hope we get Kayal Iro. Dream signing. Find a great meter eat winger as Russel is probably more of a depth utility back. Two signings like this would help our start to sets so much and give our forwards a break. Than hopefully we emphasis the need to improve our defensive line speed and other systematic issues (spacing and trust between defenders) to help our edge defence.

      1. Anonymous

        I never said we are chasing him. I just said hope we get him implying that I hope we chase him. Because he is a first grader and his opportunity at the sharks is blocked. ESL are chasing him which shows that he could easily get out of his contract.

        1. Milo

          I watched Saab the other night and he’d be ok too.
          There’s a lot to be said for the systems in place as to me even last week or rookie winger was stuck at times because his inside made bad option. But if you dominate the ruck you shouldn’t be caught out…
          I watch the niggle / hold that Penrith do along with line speed and it’s not rocket science – it’s technique / discipline and I assume repetition

          1. John Eel

            Panthers are the gold standard. Every player knows their job. Don’t make many errors and players always backing up. Defensively they are outstanding.

            They are a well drilled team. What was Gus thinking when he sacked Cleary?

          2. Milo

            Gus is his own man and never makes errors John; I will say that he helped set them up but they had v good staff in the background too.

  24. Anonymous

    I was talking to an old bushie from Wauchope. The Eels used to go up there and train every year under Jack. He said they were a tight group that would train hard all week and every night be in the pub. The players were never drunk and were the best behaved bunch of guys.
    If you look how they played, they played together. Each player was in sync and knew what the others would do!
    Now it looks like nobody knows what’s going to happen and nobody has their mates back. We are NOT a unified cohesive squad on the field. Selfish player options- Matto and Dylbags. They would have been sacked by Jack or come back via cup at the least.

    Our recruitment not so much the players but the depth of talent has been negligently managed over several years now. Knowing the attrition of the season especially after a WC. We negligently went into the season with empty spots in the squad and injury clouds Heads must roll!!


    Our defence across the club is pathetic Womens, Cup and first grade are some of or if not the worst in the comp. This has been going on for years. We lack technique, stamina and attitude. We are easily bulldozed through. We are still getting gassed. No commitment and nobody can lift when needed. (Except Reg)

    Too predictable and unable to adapt to the changes in a game.

    Too many on big coin NOT delivering each week.

    This club women and men need to be flogged in off season. We are too timid and lazy.

    Recruitment team should be axed. They have been negligent! Asleep at the wheel.
    Strength and conditioning has not kept up with Panthers should also be axed.

    By round 10 next year we may have a defining decision to be made. I hope not.

  25. Joker Eel

    Is Cini really in our Top 30 next year?

    Is the club going to make changes to the Cup coaching structure? We need to have a strong second side to have competition for positions..

    We can’t win a competition if you are averaging more than 15 points per game when’s BA going to fix this…

    1. sixties Post author

      Yes. Don’t think they are. Last year we had system issues. This year we have individuals missing tackles or falling out of the system.

      1. Joker Eel

        That’s really poor planning if Cini is in the 30 next year.

        Well if they don’t think having competition for position is good I think that’s part of the problem right there..

        I don’t think under BA our defence has ever been good apart from 2020 covid season… I have always supported him but think he needs a change in 24 or he should leave. Not sure who to replace him with though.

        Btw Appreciate your work aswell as the rest of the team at TCT.

      2. Scotty Mahon

        System issues?
        You’re even starting to sound like BA.
        “Systems” is his new buzz word this year.
        He comes up with a new one each season.

  26. Deano the eel tragic

    Don’t forget waqa Blake will leave who is on decent coin and Hodgson will most likely retire which is good money to both of their spots can be filled with good 400-500k outside backs. Then you also have Sam loizu and I think Ogden will be let go. Their spots will be replaced to one with a halves type player and one just a depth forward.

    1. sixties Post author

      If you look at my roster break down for next season I haven’t included any of those players in the top 30 roster for 2024 Deano. There are only three spots available. That list of 27 excludes them and I believe they have already accounted for Waqa regarding the money, so I don’t think there’s any extra or surprise money to be found there. With only the three spots that remain open I believe they need to find a way to get more money to make a significant signing or two.

  27. Anonymous

    Gday Sixties.
    Hard to argue with a lot of this.
    The outside back situation is a disaster.
    Sometimes though, with one or two shrewd moves, all of a sudden you have a new look backline.

    I think Russell should be offered to the Superleague, Sivo should be cut. A Winger with Fullback potential like Kiraz, Smith Shields or Connor Tracey would help a lot and a veteran Centre/Winger would benefit the club greatly.
    We should then consider moving Gutho into the Centres to start to transition to the next gen.

      1. Anonymous

        Everyone thinks outside the box the trouble being no one knows how much money is in it , its great us saying we would like him or him but are they available , do we have roster space , cap space , positions they want , length of contract , its easy from outside the box .

  28. Steven Kerr

    I think we are a better team than a few above us on the ladder. Not on current form granted. The start of the season was a little slow but we played the Storm and Panthers in 2 of the first 4 games (beating the Panthers) and losing by narrow margins. We started clicking a few weeks before State of Origin – especially Brown and Moses before Browns incident and Moses rep selection. The draw was unfair with us playing the team off a bye for about 4 weeks? Injuries tell the rest of the story. In my opinion Parra is unlucky not to be inside the 8 but on current form we are nowhere near contenders.
    I hear your comments and the age is a concern. Paulo seemed to show some ageing this year. Gutho a shining light (again). A superstar like Walsh is rare but we need one

    1. sixties Post author

      Steven, I was supportive of our early season form despite the losses. Our draw has also been awful. But there’s a difference between having a better top 17 to another club or being a better top 30. Our problem is that as soon as adversity hit as it did, we didn’t have the depth to cover it. Now look at next year’s roster.

  29. TolElts

    Good write-up Sixties.
    My main concern is what is the priority and goals of the front office. Are they satisfied that we be in the top 8 every season and winning the Premiereship is a welcome bonus? As many had commented, our top 30 does not have the same qualities of other teams top 30. As now, we are scrapping the bottom to replace our backs.
    Other point is our teams performance in all levels – first grade, NSW Cup and women’s. I had watched them and can see the same errors, line speed, missed tackles and players on the ground and non aggressive ruck position in all of them. Our spacing in the field seems to make it easy for every defending team to cover our attack, while in defence, the attacking team can easily go around us just like what the Broncos did. It appears we are not well drilled, our players does not give them all except maybe for Gutho, Mitch and RCG.
    It seems we need to change the current cukture existing within the club.

    1. sixties Post author

      It’s the question I have put to the club. The Eels set goals to be leaders in many sports clubs metrics. A key goal is to win titles. So my question is, if we don’t offer TPAs, what methods do they intend to use to be a leading club in recruitment practices?

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