The Cumberland Throw

The Corner Post – October 24, 2023: What Off Season?

Each week of the offseason brings us closer to the commencement of pre-season training for the NRL clubs. As far as the Eels are concerned, finishing one week before every other team in 2023 means an early return to work, probably around November 6.

In the meantime, the Pacific championships are all the buzz and keeping footy fans satisfied during the increasing cricket coverage.

Pacific Championships Week 1 Observations

Week one of the Pacific championships was full of blowout scores and displays of talent from both the winning and losing sides.

An Australian side featuring Samoans like prop pairing Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Payne Haas conquered Toa Samoa 38-12 In Townsville. Flashy outside backs such as Tedesco, Edwards, Staggs, Tabuai-Fidow and Cobbo shone bright, combining for a total of 4 tries, 26 points and 20 tackle breaks.

Aussies won convincingly

Despite making less errors, the Samoan side can pin down their downfall on conceded penalties and missed tackles. Despite the loss, a variety of Samoan talent was thrust into the limelight. Representative Rookies Gordon Chang Kum Tong, Suaalavi Faalogo and Deajarn Asi performed well against the number 1 ranked Australia side, dominating Samoas stats for most tackles made, most run metres as well as line breaks.

Papua New Guinea destroyed the Cook Islands, beating them 46-10 in an epic Port Moresby clash. On the back of their narrow PM’s XIII clash with Australia, the Kumuls attack was in fine form. Nene Macdonald took centre stage, scoring 4 tries, running for 214 metres, and breaking 5 tackles.

The Cook Islands 58% completion rate, and 40 missed tackles, ultimately spelled out their demise. No team can expect to be competitive with such stats.

Despite the blowout scores across the first week of the competition, the positives can be found in the spotlight shone on the previously unheralded talent and the profile given to representative  rugby league in the traditional offseason.

Tamika Upton

In week 1 of the female Pacific Championships, NRLW, Dally M winner Tamika Upton made her long-awaited debut for the Australian Jillaroos.

Upton strides out

Upton ensured it would be a debut to remember, with the Newcastle fullback registering Australia’s first and last tries, and running for 214 metres – including 50 post contact metres. It was a dominant display in a team of female superstars.

Scoring 8 of Australia’s 16 points, Upton put on a clinic. This could be considered a surprise for any player on debut. However, in this instance it simply proved why this talented player was the recipient of both the Newcastle Knights and the NRLW’s top gongs for 2023, and why her team has won back to back NRLW titles.

New Zealand Kiwis

Michael Maguire’s decision to appoint Panthers powerhouse James Fisher-Harris as the Kiwis captain would have had many NRL fans nodding in agreement.

After yet another dominant NRL season in 2023 and a Premiership 3-peat, the Panthers enforcer has become one of the most feared and respected props in rugby league.

Fisher-Harris has forged an imposing partnership at the foot of the mountains with Moses Leota with the two running roughshod over opponents on a weekly basis.

Fisher celebrates

The good news for Kiwi fans is that the two will feature in New Zealand’s side, ensuring a strong platform is set for what is a fast and classy backline. Expect no prisoners to be taken!

Retirement Confirmation

The Eels have officially confirmed the retirement of back rower Andy Davey. The popular forward has accepted medical advice following a number of concussions.

Andy Davey

Davey linked with the Eels in 2019 after making the move from Queensland as a mature aged player. When he eventually made his top grade debut in 2020 at 28 years and 233 days, he became the fourth oldest player to debut in the NRL era.

His achievement sent a message to other older players to keep chasing their dreams. He retires with 44 NRL appearances across three clubs on his resume, with 22 of those matches in the Blue and Gold.

Whether he returns to his carpentry trade or chases other goals, we wish Andy continued success and thank him for being an Eel.




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