The Cumberland Throw

Eels Preseason Training – November 6, 2023: Day One


After finishing the 2023 NRL season earlier than every other team, the Eels were always going to be one of the first clubs back into work. Day one of the preseason finally arrived yesterday.

In total, 24 players hit the training track, with most of the first group back being the pathways players.

The returning 2023 squad members present in this first session were as follows:

Shaun Lane, Matt Doorey, Brendan Hands, Luca Moretti, Toni Mataele, Ofahiki Ogden, Jirah Momoisea, Tevita Taumoepenu, Dan Keir, Haze Dunster, Isaac Lumelume, Ky Rodwell and Zac Cini.

Haze Dunster on the comeback trail

The pathways boys included Apa Twidle, Richie Penisini, Blaize Talagi, Ethyn Martin, Josh Lynn, Ethan Sanders, Matt Arthur, Saxon Pryke, Jock Brazel, Charlie Guymer and Sam Tuivaiti.

A significant number of these players had a limited exposure to the preseason in the lead up to Christmas last year. The absence of players due to the World Cup provided the circumstance to organise this. These blokes are now a year older and can be expected to do more days up to Christmas this year.

Sam Tuivaiti

Before any questions are asked, there were no surprise starters or “secret” signings.

A number of first graders will return over the next couple of field sessions, with those involved in the recent representative matches the last to return. I’m expecting most to be back by the middle of next week, with all squad members training by the end of this month.

Flegg head coach Jordan Rankin with Apa Twidle

This was very much a “roll the arm over” session.

Gone are the days of flogging players on their first day back.

Modern sports science informs us that elite athletes can be prone to injury if they immediately return from their down time to high intensity training.

Obviously, these individuals would have kept themselves fit since the season ended, but pushing athletes to their limits too early is unnecessary, especially when the preseason is so long.

Matt Arthur

There was an element of education in the warm up, with Trent Elkin focussing on correct movement technique, especially with those who were relatively new to the NRL preseason.

As far as the details on the session are concerned there wasn’t too much to report. It was a solid two hours, with at least as much ball work as there was conditioning.

Laney was happy to be back

All of today’s group looks to have returned in good shape and the pathways lads didn’t look out of place. To that end, I thought that the pathways players answered any questions asked of them during the session.

I’m looking forward to the return of more of the NRL squad to get a clearer point of comparison which should allow me to provide greater details on the sessions.

Eels forever!


Individual player photos credit Eels media


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43 thoughts on “Eels Preseason Training – November 6, 2023: Day One

  1. Ron

    Any idea if jjbm is doing the pre season. Surely parra would want him to be there and hope to develop him into a spencer Leniu bench/impact prop.

        1. Matthew Sweeney

          Cheers Sixties. I remember him returning the ball once last year mid season with incredible vigor and had ppl calling for his inclusion in the nrl team. Hope they fast track him , might have that fui fui x factor. If jnr can find his best form and a fit hopgood , matto , kelma , lane , rcg we have a very strong pack oh and wiremu. If only we had a lightening quick lock

  2. Offside

    If I’m not mistaken the players get 6 weeks off depending on years playing etc..
    So the rep players who played this week Sivo, Brown and Penisini will be back before Xmas or after.

    Normally I’d be excited to see them back but knowing the road ahead and the no doubt dissapointment that’s coming I’m not excited at all.

    1. sixties Post author

      I believe that the senior players get a bit more. They had time off before those Rep games Offside. All players should be back by the end of the month.

          1. Ron

            Sorry I thought I replied to 60s reply on my initial comment – was asking about jjbm and whether his non-appearance suggested he had been poached or not

  3. Ivan

    Sixties are you anticipating any outside backs signing on as we only appear to have 26/27 players signed for the top 30 ?tia

    1. sixties Post author

      Ivan, I believe we have at least 28 players signed. In my opinion they will probably have to part ways with a player or two to make a significant outside back signing.

  4. B&G 4Eva

    Really good to see the pathways players step up into pre season NRL training. The biggest concern remains the failure to recruit a genuine NRL strike backline player for the past 2/3 seasons.
    Hopefully the recruitment gurus work a deal , as unfortunately the roster for 2024 is looking a bit behind what we experienced for the last 2 seasons.
    Perhaps we need an unexpected player to jump the shark and provide the spark needed to improve the strike from the backs. Fingers crossed

    1. sixties Post author

      The space/opportunity is there for somebody for somebody to have a breakout season. Could it be that a pathways player or two emerges?

      1. B&G 4Eva

        That’s true, doesn’t alter the fact that in essence the club should have done better in filling that space, our peers would have done that, yep there are issues with TPAs etc , but the backline seems to have been secondary and the recruitment team dropped the ball

        More than happy if a pathways player steps up, but there is still an imbalance in the roster with insufficient backline players, hopefully they are not being complacent and just expecting things to happen.

          1. Grunta

            Speaking of TPA’s…
            Is there a person employed at the club and their sole roll is to seek TPA’s? There should be IMO. I’m not sure how it works, but they seem the difference between the top teams and the also rans.

  5. TolEllts

    Hi Sixties, thanks for the updates. Any info whether Ethan Sanders is staying or is he really going to the Raiders.

  6. Milo

    Good read mate and look forward to these again and again. I hope Jontay is back? Heard v good things abt him from his junior junior days!!
    We need a centre….I know it’s been said many times but we do.

  7. Colin Hussey

    Happy to see the old season behind us and look forward to seeing the new year in with the eels.

    Looking to see Dunster have a much better season along with other new recruits.

  8. Namrebo

    Thanks Sixties. Looking forward to your take on pre-season training when it’s in full swing. Living in QLD means I rely on such things to get a better gauge on what’s happening, where the team is at and who some of the emerging players might be.

    You may have already mentioned in previous posts / Podcasts, but are there any changes in the defence coaching structure for the coming year? It will be interesting to see what changes to our defensive structures, if any, come to be for 2024.

  9. Derf

    Rodwell, leumeu and Zini should all be moved on as a minimum they are not the answer. How we can lose so many players in the last couple of seasons Andy have signed no one is incredible. Paulo sadlyshould he moved on. He is caught out way too often in defence and just can’t seem to keep up with the pace of the game. No new outside backs an aging roster and the same defensive coach. Going to be a long season.

    1. sixties Post author

      That’s an almighty negative shot Derf. Firstly, Lumelume would be on a train and trial deal. Our problem is the money shelled out on the big retention contracts. It doesn’t leave much for recruitment. I’ve been critical of the roster and the lack of backline stocks. That said, unless we have a horror year, this squad is still capable of making the finals. Can it win a title without additions or changes to the outside backs? Probably not.

      1. Derf

        I would say it is realistic tbh. Where is our squad improving? The positives I see are availability Matto not suspended and Lane hopefully fit but again both are aging. Greig will overtake Paulo which is good. Hopgood will improve too. We do probably have the least creative dummy halves though. Our halves if they stay fit are great imo. Gutho gives his all but he is getting older and often looks to be carrying an injury. These days though you need wingers to start your sets well and ours don’t. Sivo looks reluctant and only becomes interested close to the try line. No one else makes an impact.

        Our biggest problem and has been for a few years is our defence. We are slow to move up. Don’t seem to get numbers in like other teams, allow quick play the balls, and caught shirt out wide so often it looks like the other team is having a trading run as their wingers often score untouched.

        We have had so many easy tries scored against us from scrums when teams place more numbers on one side and we never number up allowing very easy passage it has been comical at times. So what will change there?

  10. John Eel

    Clearly not a fan of Sivo and Russell. Russell is quick without being elite pace. Scores a lot of tries gets good metres. I would be ok if another winger with elite ability came along and replaced him.

    Sivo scores a lot of tries off the good work done by his teammates. He is however approaching the final years of his NRL career and so it would be prudent to plan for his successor.

    Personally I think that one of the underrated players in the Eels squad is Arthur Miller Stephen’s. Looking forward to what he can produce in 2024.

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