The Cumberland Throw

The Corner Post – October 28, 2023: The Player Market Heats Up

Week 2 of the Pacific test matches were a treat for Rugby League fans, with both representative mens and women’s sides continuing to provide action and excitement for keen fans in the NRL offseason.

Meanwhile, there was plenty to track in the player market with signings confirmed and speculation mounting.

Pacific Championships Week 2 Wrap

The second week of the Pacific Championships provided fans with both blowout and narrow scorelines.

In the first match, New Zealand dismantled the Toa Samoa side who were desperate to win their first game of the series.

Samoa’s poor completion rate (60%) and 57 missed tackles once more brought about their heavy defeat. Despite an array of talent on display for the small island nation, the 50 to nil thrashing was evidence that they failed follow their game plan against the World’s number 2 ranked side.

In the second men’s clash, the Cook Islands fell just short in losing 22-18 to Fiji Bati. The Eels Maika Sivo and Waqa Blake both featured on the scoresheet for Fiji with one try each.


Despite having the poorer stats, hope and pride sparked a late Fijian rampage with two tries in the final seven minutes. Representative rookie, Wests Tigers fullback Jahream Bula, starred with 253 run metres, 2 line breaks, 4 tackle breaks and 1 try.

The Cook Islands should be commended on their improved performance against such a strong Fiji ensemble. An emerging nation in the Rugby League landscape, the Cook Islands side will only continue to improve as they gain international experience.

Fans can now look forward to an element of unpredictability in week 3. Firstly, Australia are poised to face off with New Zealand in an epic 1st vs 2nd ranked clash. On the other side, Fiji will prepare to play the super competitive Papau New Guinea Kumuls in Port Moresby. Whilst PNG and Australia enter their respective matches as favourites, could major upsets be on the cards?

Women’s Results

Without any recognised halves, the Mate Ma’a Tonga side were more than competitive against the highly experienced Kiwi Ferns. With centres Tiana Penitani and our own Cassey Tohi-Hiku in the playmaker roles, the Tongan ladies provided their Pacific rivals with plenty of headaches as the Kiwis eventually ran out 28 to 10 winners.

The performance of Tohi-Hiku was a revelation, with the Eels outside back putting forward a strong case for getting more ball in her hands in 2024. Possessing all of the attributes of a spine player with her passing game, strong defence and powerful kicking, it seems a no-brainer for her to be shifted closer to the action in PARRAdise.

Tohi -Hiku

This game had a strong Eels feel with Jade Fonua, Amelia Mafi and Shannon Muru also lining up for Tonga, and Capri Paekau coming off the bench for New Zealand. There were other familiar faces with former Eels on both teams.

In the second clash, the PNG Orchids held off a determined Cook Islands Moana team, 28 to 20. Though the standard wasn’t as high as the New Zealand and Tonga match, it was a tight contest that provided both teams with much needed international experience.


Northern Hemisphere International – England vs Tonga

The action moved to old Blighty for the final match of the weekend and it was a classic.

With another 22 to 18 scoreline for the weekend, England managed to hold off a late Tonga comeback attempt.


Mikey Lewis and Tom Johnstone starred for England and dominated the games stats, combining for 345 run metres, 4 line breaks, 13 tackle breaks and 3 tries.

Fans back in Australia would have enjoyed the opportunity to watch familiar NRL faces, including Parra’s Will Penisini, as well as catching a glimpse of English talent they may otherwise not see during the regular season.

Signing Frenzy

We haven’t hit the magical November 1st date, but already the player market has heated up.

* Addo Carr Swap?

Bulldogs Winger Josh Addo-Carr has been no stranger to news headlines over the last few weeks. Now, rumours of a player swap with a rival club seemed to stump fans and club staff alike.

The Fox has been rumoured to be a part of a potential player swap with Parramatta forward Ryan Matterson, should his club grant him an immediate release.


Matto is just commencing his most recent contract at Parramatta, rejecting an advance from Wayne Bennett in doing so.

The Eels have lacked depth in the outside backs in recent years, and could use an elusive and creative talent like Josh. However, you’d have to think that they would not elect to lose a versatile player and Blue and Gold favourite in Matterson.

Though none of this speculation has been confirmed, Parramatta is rumoured to have joined both the Dragons and Tigers in the queue to gain the wingers signature.

Naturally, Bulldogs football manager Phil “Gus” Gould claims he has no idea where this news has come from.

* Weekes To Canberra

The Canberra Raiders made waves this week with the signing of Manly young gun Kaeo Weekes.

Filling in irregularly in the outside back positions, Weekes has proven to be a fierce competitor blessed with the much sought after quality of pace.


Could he be the Jack Wighton replacement the Raiders seek?

After almost limping into the 2023 finals series and exiting in the first round, Canberra will look to go further in 2024, and Weekes could provide the youth and speed they need. 

* Crossland Extends at Newcastle

Phoenix Crossland enjoyed a breakout 2023 season covering for the Knights injured Number 9, Jayden Brailey.


The Newcastle Knights announced this week they have extended the versatile Crossland for three more years, housing the star until the end of 2026.

With 25 appearances, 923 tackles made, and a 92.6% tackle efficiency rate in 2023, Crossland was vital to his sides journey to this year’s finals series. Little wonder the Knights have licked him into a multi year deal.

* Keppie To Join The Bunnies

The Rabbitohs confirmed yet another addition to their 2024 squad and another Manly departure, signing Sea Eagles forward Sean Keppie.

A former Eels junior, Keppie will prove to be a significant addition to a premiership-hopeful Rabbitohs team next year. With a 90% tackle efficiency rate, Keppie will provide a boost for an already dominant Rabbitohs middle alongside the likes of Thomas Burgess, Jai Arrow and captain Cameron Murray.


Locking up the forward for three years, it will be exciting to watch as Keppie becoming an enforcer in the South Sydney pack.

* Curran to Bulldogs

Another former Eels junior is in the signing news this week, with the Bulldogs confirming that they’ve secured Warriors forward Josh Curran.

A Warriors since 2019, Curran has established himself as a damaging player with a huge motor. Often providing his best work off the bench, Curran was one of the many cogs in the Warriors machinery which drove the side all the way to the preliminary finals; the clubs first since 2011.


Racking up monster post contact metres and offloads, fans knew whenever Curran was on the field. The brand of football he plays is exactly what the Bulldogs have been lacking. Quick offloads and a relentless running game will benefit the Belmore side as they look to climb the ladder and change club culture in 2024.

* Whitfield Heads North

In a shock NRLW switch, and the first of the off season, the North Queensland Cowboys have acquired Tigers flier Jakiya Whitfeld.

Signed on a two-year deal, Jakiya’s speed and fire will provide a boost for the QLD side as they seek to step up to finals football in the next NRLW season.


In 2023, Whitfeld’s nine appearances yielded four tries and 70 tackle breaks, as well as the Dally M Tackle of the Year for a full-field chase down on Isabelle Kelly to prevent a Roosters try.

The winger is single-handedly the most exciting NRLW code switcher, joining the Tigers from the Aussie 7’s Rugy Union side. Jakiya also makes her Jillaroos on Saturday. receiving a call up following the withdrawal of Julia Robinson.

So much to keep track of in this NRL and NRLW off season, with The Corner Post ready to keep you updated on it all!


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10 thoughts on “The Corner Post – October 28, 2023: The Player Market Heats Up

  1. sixties

    Both Addo Carr and Weekes were linked to Parra, whilst Curran and Keppie were Eels juniors. Somehow Parra feature in the player market even when we aren’t involved.

    1. B&G 4Eva

      Would be a change for the Eels to be involved in actually signing a player that was in demand, still reeling from the demolition of the GF NRLW side, and the failure to recruit anyone that will immediately be seen as an improvement to the roster in place.

      Guess we again wait to see if post Nov 1 brings a Xmas gift, been too many years without adding to an average 3/4 line, certainly need the ground to shake a bit under the recruitment team.

      1. Ron

        Mitch Moses speak to Aaron woods in an interview and explained how it was Bernie gurr (with some help from BA) that got him to eels. Credited Bernie with a lot of the good at parra and turning it around. I don’t see any anything from the head of football and sarintinos re: tpas and selling parra as an institution in the way roosters, south’s, melbroune, broncos sell themselves as an institution of footy. We get told by press releases to clap for resignings (some have which have been welcome news) but the actual litmus test is identifying and getting players you know you need to fill holes/go to next level. This admin had consistently shown it can’t do that. Just dishes up scraps each year for BA and expects magic.

        Also, if anyone watched nZ v Aus last night, brown was pretty bad. Has no idea about ball playing, timing snd tempo. NZ we screaming for him to get more involved and create but really struggled. Also, papalii on edge next to him shows why papa is not a backrower. Very poor laterally and Aussies clearly had a plan to get him working. Always thought he was better in middle

          1. John Eel

            DB and Papali’i both had good games. I thought DB outstanding.

            Commentators were typically wrapping Hughes but Brandon Smith called DB as the best for NZ at halftime.

          2. Parra Pete

            Brown had a great game – as did ALL of the Kiwi team. I was particularly impressed with Matthew Timoko….He is showing great promise – going to be (if not already) a beauty

  2. pete

    I’m a cracked record this off season. But Recruitment is the front office Jack Gibson was talking about. Yes the leagues club is doing well and is on point. But it’s the Recruitment office that is first step into the club for players and coaches etc.

    We clearly have a club that is kicking goals off the field and we are thankful for that. This is Board and CEO bread and butter! It’s just basic business.
    Ill call it the ‘first arm’ of the business.

    I’ll call the ‘second arm’ of the business the NRL team and football department. This is the focus for fans and mostly the only focus of fans. Hence, if we fail on the field it really doesn’t matter to most fans if the rest of the club is doing well.

    So the second arm of the business needs to be more strategic in its planning. It needs to be results and outcome focused. Not merely coasting sluggishly along two steps behind as it seems. With obvious needs going unmet year on year. It seems the Elephants in the room are continually being ignored and there is no accountability for decisions.

    We are seeing too many juniors being poached from under our noses.

    Plenty are saying BA should be sacked if we don’t improve. This is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. When the Recruitment situation will remain the same. A new coach will be just as hamstrung as BA and well end up cellar dwellars again. WhereasThe HOF is the head of the snake and its no point attacking the body of the snake. We need to recruit a new HOF and pay good coin to attract the best possible candidates.

    I’m happy to be proven wrong and I live in hope that a gun signing is just around the corner.

    1. sixties

      My take is slightly different because I can separate the PLC and the Eels with respect to the football team. Don’t get me wrong, as the “owners” of the team, what is happening at the PLC is critically linked to Parra, and the funding that the leagues club provides for Juniors is not acknowledged by enough people. Also, the club is the rich benefactor that is there whenever they are needed – and credit to the football operation for running at a profit.
      However, the Eels Football club is in the business of football. The financials of the football operation are impacted by on field performance. Sponsorships, merch, match day attendances, building lifelong support etc are linked to consistently strong on-field performances. If the team sits at the bottom of the table, especially for any duration (multiple seasons) things aren’t as rosy. We must always remember that the business of the Eels is the footy and it has to be prioritised.

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