The Cumberland Throw

Eels Pre-Season Training – November 27, 2023: All Present And Accounted For

Will Penisini has now returned to training which means that every squad member is back at Kellyville. That includes club captains Clint Gutherson and Junior Paulo who are both involved in rehab as they recover from knee and toe operations respectively.

Will looks to be in very good order, and this has been true for all returning players. The photo below captures Will following his brother Richard during Monday’s conditioning work. Note the different builds of the two brothers – Will is that powerful stocky build we are all familiar with. Richie is taller and at just 18, also a strong build.

Will follows Richard in Monday conditioning work

When it comes to conditioning, it’s difficult to make individual or collective comparisons to last season, given the late return of many players due to the World Cup. It was a preseason where a number did not begin training until January.

Most clubs were in the same boat. Nonetheless, the squad looks advanced from a conditioning perspective and being able to work on systems with an entire squad this early in the preseason has to be a major positive.

Richie could feature in a coaching manual with this pass captured by Eels media

This first field session of the week involved conditioning for all players, but it appeared that there was a greater load on the backs and edge players than there was on the middles.

Rather than competing against each other, the players were probably competing against themselves. The start of each player’s run was slightly spaced, and each appeared to be close to top pace and closely monitored via their GPS devices. Though it was near impossible for me to assess pace, Bailey Simonsson looked very fast.

Simonsson, with Blaize Talagi running behind him

In keeping with the trend of this preseason, the session included a continued emphasis on the technical and tactical, with the squad working through attacking shapes and defensive systems.

The middles in particular were doing the work where they live – doing the tough carries and defence in the middle third. It’s interesting to watch the coaching about positioning, movement, footwork and communication.

In this report, I wanted to make mention of some of the NRL players that hadn’t featured as much in the reports thus far.

* Shaun Lane – the tallest* rugby league player in the world (*lacking any shred of verification) is usually a slow build into the preseason. He has returned in better shape than in any previous year.

Lane looking good

* Matt Doorey – last year would have been a challenge for Matt. He arrived as a player with a history of injuries and a resume of games starting from the bench. Injury again hampered him at times in 2023, but he looks like he’s been doing the work in the off-season that would give him the best possible chance of playing 80 minutes on an edge.

* Luca Moretti – his NRL experience in 2023 has him starting this preseason as close to a top 17 incumbent. He’s still not on a top 30 deal but perhaps his self belief is at that level. There’s no question that he’s put in some hard work during the off-season.

* RCG – with Junior in rehab, Reg has stepped up as a senior voice in the group. Alongside Moses, he can be heard encouraging the efforts of others.

Hey Hoppy, how do you rate the TCT training reports?

* J’Maine Hopgood – a total professional. If this was last season, I’d be raving about the Eels new signing. Instead I’m almost taking his work on the training track for granted. That’s a measure of his standards.

* Dylan Brown – looks a million dollars. It’s as simple as that.


Please Note

There was no training report from last Friday due to a variation in the Eels program for the week.

Eels forever!


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25 thoughts on “Eels Pre-Season Training – November 27, 2023: All Present And Accounted For

  1. Sniper

    Great write up Sixties, appreciate your time and effort in keeping us Eels supporters in touch with our pre season. Living in Queensland it’s hard to get news on the Eels at this time of the year.

    I have a real interest in Ethyn Martin, what is his contract situation and how is he going at training? Is he any chance of a top 30 contract? He looks like he has a lot of potential and we should be looking to tie him up.

    1. sixties Post author

      We are huge fans of Ethyn and got to spend time with him via our feature on the Parra House. He’s getting some preseason experience but I’m not sure about his contract situation. With a background in Union, there are aspects of rugby league that he’s still learning. But he was a standout on the wing for Flegg later in the season. He’s not huge but he runs without fear and is fast and elusive.

  2. Ron

    Thanks for reporting 60s.

    As a side note, Michael gabrael has just been sent to the sharks in a swap for Tracey. Geez, that suggests dogs were happy to get him off their books even before the Tracey links came up. Wish we would have got him to return but oh well. Tough luck I suppose

  3. Milo

    Thanks for the report Sixties,
    Penisini will hopefully be up for a more consistent season albeit he is a young kid; but has a lot of promise and skill in the MJ type of mould.
    Like some i assume the club will keep options open going forward for the centre role and see how the youngsters progress over the next season or two.

    Do you see BA potentially adding Hopgood to the leadership group?
    When will the junior reps be finalised as in teams?

    1. Ron

      He is defiantly a leader even if not in title. Parra need to resign hopgood on a long term deal before he is off contract and seeking to cashed up cellar dwellers or the new 18th team. Seriously, the r&r team have to show they have learnt something from the papalii shitshow.

    2. sixties Post author

      If I was BA I’d be adding Hopgood to the leadership group. I believe that his leadership qualities are recognised within the club.
      Haven’t got any mail on that yet, but typically they play a couple of trials before finalising the groups.

  4. Glenn

    Thanks for the updates 60s, very much appreciated. Like your thoughts on individual players particularly the juniors. who hopefully will become part of the team in the near future.

  5. anonymous

    another good read thanks sixties
    How are taumapenu and mataeli looking so far
    Sad to hear JJBM has left the club but sometimes better opportunities come up elsewhere
    best of luck to the young man

  6. Namrebo

    Thanks Sixties. Like Sniper I’m in Queensland so rely on these to get a feel of how the team is coming along. In my youth my father took me to all the Eels games and he insisted on getting there early to watch the U23s and Reserve Grade. That way we got to see some of the younger players coming through. I don’t get a lot of that now up here and the local media don’t know Parra exists unless they are playing one of the local teams.

    I’m looking forward to reading how Richard Penisini progresses through pre-season. It would be great to see someone like that make first grade in 2024, although from some of the stuff you’ve written I expect I’ll have to wait a bit longer.

    Cheers and thanks again for the updates.

    1. sixties Post author

      Cheers Namrebo. I reckon if the circumstances are right, that there might be two or three pathways boys that get a run late in the season. The telling factor will be how much NSW Cup time they get

  7. Incredulous

    Hearing Coonr Tracey going to Dogs after a player swap with ex Parra Junior Jabriel Kalache? I believe only just joined Dogs as development but didn’t last long and is onbhis way to the shire.
    Not sure if true. But the question is why didn’t we swap Kalache to get Tracey ??

  8. 55 years an eel

    ” the session included a continued emphasis on the technical and tactical, with the squad working through attacking shapes and defensive systems.”

    Either the outside defensive failures are because of the players or because of the coaching.
    This is the most important issue to resolve with a team that otherwise could have won in 22 and finished in the running this year.
    The express lanes past a confused outside defence open almost every week. Every big loss was a consequence of this and so were the losses that should have been wins.
    One player couldn’t get the message about staying on his man and he has gone. There is one more who should prioritise resolving this habit that completely negates his obvious skills as an attacker.
    Perhaps the new recruits will help.

    1. sixties Post author

      There were definitely individual errors in defence out wide in 2023. Both falling out of the system and straight out missing the tackle. There will always be things that go wrong in a game, and all teams get caught out at some stage when the winger jams in. I get most concerned about scrums in our quarter. Anyway, there can be no accusations that the coaches don’t dedicate time to address it. And this year it’s literally been from day 1 of the preseason.

      1. 55 years an eel

        Hi Ed.
        I’m well aware of that. It’s why I don’t like to criticise individuals.
        Still, it doesn’t change the point that for the last few years opposing teams have had an easy points strategy running around the defence.
        The structure isn’t working where it does for others.
        Count the number of tries scored down the wing last year and it’s pretty clear what needs to improve.
        It’s too easy to call out individuals for getting out of position but I remember how well the defensive structure was organised in the Brian Smith days. The overlap was extremely rare.
        If we fix it in 24 we are a definite top 4 side.

  9. EA

    Two things:
    -What happened to Jabriel Kalache. Was absent last year and this year disappeared?

    -I wonder if Fogarty resigning till 2025 has an impact on whether Sanders wants to stay. This signing shows that Sanders will be only a back up at Raiders or eels till end of 2025 as a minimum. Personally, if I was Sanders Idk why the fuck he should leave the eels. Ricky has not developed a top half back at that club or any club. Wighton is overated as a 5/8. Look how well Moses and DB has developed at the eels. Barret is here who IMO was a major contributer to the growth of Luai and Cleary. Sanders should stay at eels till the end of 2025 and than assess his options from there.

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