The Cumberland Throw

The Corner Post – October 7, 2023: Done And Dusted

It’s the first official week of the NRL off season – not that we have one on TCT!

The 2023 premiers have been decided and now attention switches to the representative scene as rugby league nations gear up for the 2023 Pacific Championships.

Grand Final Sunday

The Penrith Panthers and the Brisbane Broncos played out what will be known to many as one of the greatest Grand Finals of all time.

As per our predictions from last week, the Grand final was fast paced with no shortage of excitement. The Brisbane Broncos had the lead for the majority of the second half but the miracle Panthers comeback from 24-8 down demonstrated how difficult it is to claim a title.

The likes of Moses Leota, Stephen Crichton and Nathan Cleary stamped themselves as Panthers premiership legends and sent supporters from the outer Western Sydney suburbs into raptures as they celebrated another Grand Final victory at Accor Stadium.

Cleary turned the tide in the grand final

Nathan Cleary took home the Clive Churchill Medal, the second of his career. The star halfback’s accolade makes history as he becomes only the 2nd player in the modern NRL era (alongside Billy Slater) to win the Grand Final MVP twice.

Meanwhile, Penrith’s victory in the Grand Final reinforced the strength of Ivan Cleary’s dynasty. Their discipline is a hallmark of their success, and on Sunday they conceded only three penalties and made one error.

The victory guarantees that Penrith’s current squad will rightfully be regarded as highly as the dominant Eels team of the early 1980s.


Can The Knights Achieve An NRLW Three-Peat?

After taking home back to back NRLW Premierships, the Newcastle Knights will be looking to emulate the Panthers NRL success when they aim for a third consecutive title in 2024.

Almost mirroring the NRL Grand Final, the reigning champions were behind for a majority of the contest.

And the similarity of the results didn’t stop there, with the Knights star fullback and Dally M winner Tamika Upton doing her best impersonation of Nathan Cleary by inspiring her team to a late comeback. Given the timeline of the day, perhaps Upton’s performance was the motivator for Cleary.

Upton helps to lift the trophy

The Newcastle custodian proved just why they are a chance to feature in next years decider when she scored two tries in the closing stages of the grand final. The Karyn Murphy Medal for being best on field will now take pride of place alongside her Dally M Award.

Even the most casual NRLW fan would have to acknowledge the accomplishments of the Titans and the Knights in reaching the Grand Final. Many predicted that the Roosters and Broncos were near certain to fight it out for the title, but now it would take a brave soul to tip against the Knights next season.

Pacific Championship Squads Named

In the build up to the 2023 Pacific Championships, each nation has slowly announced their teams that will participate in the month-long competition.

Australia began by announcing their squad which notably lacked the star power of Penrith’s Nathan Cleary. Whilst Cleary has been ruled out due to injury, the omission of Rhys Walsh, Dylan Edwards and Dally M winner Kalyn Ponga has stunned some fans.

The selections made by other nations have not been as controversial, though there was some surprise at decision of Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to honour his Tongan heritage over playing for the New Zealand Kiwis.

Dylbags will line up for the Kiwis

Parramatta captain Junior Paulo will captain the Samoan side once again, despite the island nation’s coach Matt Parish choosing to step down earlier in the year.

A wide range of young talent from across the NRL have been chosen to represent their respective nations. Parramatta’s Daejarn Asi and Wiremu Grieg head that list for Samoa and New Zealandrespectively. Melbourne Storms Sualauvi Faalogo, the Bulldogs’ Karl Oloapu, Manly’s Gordon Chan Kum Tong and now-tiger Latu Fainuare other emerging players to monitor throughout the tournament.

A variety of NRLW talent headlines the Womens Pacific championship teams. Sharks flier Kiana Takairangi and Titans 5/8 Chantay Kiria-Ratu lead the Cook Islands side, with Niall Willians-Guthrie and Christian Pio captaining the Fetu Samoa team.

The Australian ensemble, as expected, are loaded with an assortment of exciting and skillful players. From Ali Brigginshaw, Isabelle Kelly and Olivia Kernick, to Tamika Upton, Tarryn Aiken, and Parramatta’s own Kennedy Cherrington, the side is jam packed with some of the Leagues most dominant and gifted talent.

Kicking off on October 14th with an exciting Mens Australia vs Toa Samoa and an equally enthralling Womens Australia vs NZ match, we cannot wait to see what the Pacific Tests bring in what is now a busy offseason.


Welcome To Parradise 

The Eels have officially announced the signing of former Wests Tigers and Manly Sea Eagles forward Kelma Tuilagi to a two year deal.

At 24 years of age, and with 44 NRL games on his resume, the Samoan international seems to fit the profile of many recent Eels recruits – players that the Eels believe have not reached their potential at their previous clubs. 

The Eels official digital announcement

Tuilagi looks like being joined at preseason training by another former Manly player in Morgan Harper. The experienced centre is reportedly on a train and trial arrangement with Parra, and if he is signed, the Eels top 30 will be close to complete with only two spots remaining open.

We will always support any player wearing the Blue and Gold. However, Eels fans will be keenly watching for any recruitment news that creates a genuine prospect of putting an end to the current premiership drought.



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18 thoughts on “The Corner Post – October 7, 2023: Done And Dusted

  1. Greg Govorko

    Nicely put about Morgan Harper, we will support him but be under no illusion he will not improve our squad at all , happy to acknowledge there is a lack of outside backs available but we will not go anywhere without a top line centre being bought ,on a side note with roster spots closing surely makatoa, rodwell and momoisea all in the last year of there deals in 24 are tapped on the shoulder and told to find new clubs ,while they would be on much it’s better to give the spot to an up and comer as these 3 mentioned will do nothing but block the path of our juniors , it’s time this club became proactive in retention and purchasing of players

    1. sixties

      Agree about being proactive. What I hope for is that the club has a short list of elite players and when they come off contract along with an action plan about how to secure them

  2. 55 years an eel

    Need one of the best dozen centres in the game to have a chance next year
    BS throws the whole defensive line out of structure.

    1. pete

      Will is good but not the fastest centre.

      I’d like Parra to get Roger Fabri on staff to improve our speed across the park.

      I’d also be looking at Panthers coaching ranks for defensive assistant and their strength and conditioning.

      1. Milo

        V good point Pete; we must be smarter in who we recruit in coaching / defence etc. if we do this at all? I doubt it but hope.
        We must be better defensively; and from this our attack will sort itself; discipline on and off the field too also most be addressed as this cost us during the season.

        1. pete

          Very good points about our discipline. It has been very costly. Is there an issue in the club? Usually the HOF is on top of that.

          If we keep doing the same thing we are going backwards. Evolve or disappointment will be ongoing.

          1. Milo

            Mmmm, Don’t know abt the HOF etc but we can surely improve here in discipline; I say if we had RCG for those games he was out through the knees we make finals.
            Defence and Discipline- Jack would be big on that.

  3. Glenn

    The only exciting signing news I’m interested in is the signing of Andrew Webster as our new coach in 2025. The BA experiment has failed to secure a premiership and 11 years is long enough . Also our signings have been underwhelming ATM. What about Anderson the winger from Storm? He is quick and they may be willing to release or even loan him to us. Who is our backup centre if Peninisi or Harper, who is injury prone, goes down? More backs required and we’re missing a good dummy half. Gaps everywhere in squad and we’re filling them with nuffies along with poor defence, that’ll not win us a premiership.

  4. Milo

    I am not sure Glenn, but Webster has done well in one year. Lets see how next season goes; BA will be under pressure next season to get the results and also recruitment is key to this as well as players playing well and being disciplined on and off the field. If results are worse then no doubt the club has to look at someone better to come in.

    1. Hamsammich

      I’m sure if you asked Glenn last year they would’ve been saying we should’ve gotten Todd Payten, 5 years ago it would’ve been we should sign the Walker bros. As we’ve seen with the losses of: Utoikamanu, Papali’i, and now Sanders. Going into next season with only 6 backs in the T30 and some less than mediocre signings whilst not surfing up juniors. The club has not been doing everything in its power to back the coach to get the best results. You can change the coach all you like but unless they have the best resources and lots of money being spent there won’t be a sustained period of success.

      1. Glenn

        Regarding the Walker Bros, if they had been recruited by an NRL team, I’m sure they would have been good coaches. Proof of that is that many of their ideas have been adopted by most clubs these days.

        Sure, Andrew Webster might be a 1 year wonder but BA has been here 10 years and not achieved anything. Our defence still poor, our mid season slump still active and our roster just ok. Sorry but we have to do something different to achieve something different and the BA experiment has failed IMO.

        If you look at the Storm blue print for success it is good defence and a certain type of player Bellamy likes, generally big bodies and backs with speed, and speed is that vital ingredient that every team needs for success and probably has been since 1908. Until we get speed we’ll forever struggle irrespective of our coach.

  5. pete

    Look at our recruitment last year as a measure of where we are as a club.

    Hopgood – Excellent
    Doorey – ok injury etc
    Hodgson – Retired
    Davey – Retired
    Murchie – Released
    Momisea – Reserve grade bench

    The strike rate of signings aren’t up to scratch. If I was in charge of recruitment I would be too embarrassed to come into the (front) office.

    Matto – took suspension
    Dylbags – went out when others having quiet weekend.
    Reg- brain explosion

    What does this club stand for? Failure or Success?
    Winning starts in the front office! The recruitment office IS the front office! And it’s failing the team and the supporters.

    1. Ron

      Front office led by mark o Neil is dogshit. No idea about timing contracts, retaining key juniors (sanders, stefano, gabrael etc), identifying manifest weaknesses in outside backs etc. this issue re weak outside backs and no recruitment is the same as 2018. We lost semi and then “replaced” him with Josh Hoffman and other scraps, got the spoon and then the front office realised oh hang on, we need decent players to replace the ones we lost. It’s always retrospective not proactive as you’ve highlighted with failures this year.

      Also if you look at the contracts we have now, most come off in 25. That’s the bloody same mistake we made last year when heaps of players come off at same time and we are forced to overpay people like Ryan matterson.

      Will probably go into the year with this squad, come 10th/11th and then front office might sack brad but the problem will remain with them.

      1. pete

        Agree, a lot of clubs sack the coach and the HOF and recruitment remains unchanged. Those clubs keep sacking the coach the HOF holds the clubs by short and curlys with all contracts being at the same time makes him almost indispensable. Basically it’s a battle between coach and HOF for survival and the coach is the one that goes.

    2. Hamsammich

      Hopgood you can’t really say was excellent either. Despite him playing very well in reserve grade he had played 9 NRL games at 23 years of age. It was once again up to the football department to make him into a consistent first grade player. The front office is failing the team, the fans and the coaching staff and has been for a few years now.

  6. !0 Year Member

    For an organisation which started ‘we are a development club’ I don’t see much development. Why aren’t we going to NZ Rugby and the USofA, Fiji even….. To look for the diamonds in the rough…. Isn’t that how you develop…. You find a base of talent and build it up. BA this year said he is a career coach….. It just might be his career is somewhere else.

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