Category: Eels


Parramatta Elvers and new faces

Parramatta coach Stephen Kearney has ushered in a new era at the club. He announced a team for the opening round of the NRL premiership which contains six new faces and only nine survivors from the side that played the final game of the regular season last year. Among the new faces in the 18-man squad to take on the Warriors in Auckland on Saturday night are local juniors Mitchell Allgood and Ryan Morgan, recruits Carl Webb, Casey McGuire and Chris Walker plus former Melbourne lock Billy Rogers. Kearney’s hand was forced somewhat given prop Fuifui Moimoi and centre Joel Reddy were unavailable as they are injured. Continue reading

1. Anthony Mitchell (Eels) – The Eels have struggled to find a regular dummy-half in recent years but with the emergence of 21-year-old Anthony Mitchell in late 2010 their search could soon be over. The highly-rated young hooker boasts all the skills – lightning service, a crisp passing game and speed off the mark. Likely to be part of a three-man rotation for the Eels this year, he will battle for the No.9 jersey with Matt Keating and new arrival Casey McGuire but the general consensus is that the hooking spot will become his alone in the long term. Mitchell played three games for the Eels at the back end of the 2010 season, scoring two tries, and was selected in the Indigenous All Stars side earlier this year.

2. Siuatonga Likiliki (Knights) – Boasting one of the greatest names in rugby league history – right up there with the likes of former Bronco Steele Retchless and South Sydney’s Bronco Djura – Siuatonga Likiliki made a name for himself playing for the Warriors’ premiership-winning Toyota Cup side last season when he scored 19 tries in 25 games. Now with Newcastle, the 20-year-old speedster already has tongues wagging in the Hunter where he will join Akuila Uate in a lightning-fast backline. A Junior Kiwis representative in 2010, Likiliki was named in both the 2009 and 2010 Toyota Cup Team of the Year. Continue reading

Coach’s faith repaid by Mortimer & Robson

Parramatta pin-up Daniel Mortimer has spoken of the timely meeting with coach Stephen Kearney that restored his confidence and allowed him to rediscover his best form. Mortimer and Jeff Robson hardly put a foot wrong in the halves in guiding the Eels to a 30-0 thumping of Penrith on Saturday night. And Mortimer said his promising trial form at five-eighth had a lot to do with his chat with Kearney in November. Kearney, who said Mortimer reminded him of a young Cooper Cronk when he first arrived at Melbourne Storm, guaranteed the 21-year-old and Robson first crack in the halves – despite the club’s ongoing talks with Matt Orford at the time. Mortimer struggled with expectation in 2010, but now looms as a strike weapon for the Eels. Continue reading

2010 Top NRL Dream Team Performers

Some of the Top Performers of NRL Dream Team in 2010 (averaging 50 or more) are Corey Parker (Broncos), David Stagg (Bulldogs), Nathan Hindmarsh (Eels), Cameron Smith (Storm) and Robbie Farah (Tigers) 

Pretty much all the top Dream Team Coaches had them in their side at the end of the season.  We all want them in our team NOW but the $4.2 million salary cap, State of Origin commitments and the bye rounds means we have to choose carefully.

After round 19 last year, I reviewed the top DT performers and published the table below. 

After Round 19

  GMS Ave Pts TR  GO MG TA KM Oth Lost Pts 50’s % 50’s
STAGG 17 52.88 899 0 113 768 1 56 39 11 64.71%
FARAH 17 52.18 887 12 103 591 188 72 79 9 52.94%
HINDMARSH 16 52.94 847 0 134 712 0 74 73 9 56.25%
PARKER 14 57.50 805 108 191 510 3 70 77 13 92.86%
SMITH, C 13 54.00 702 72 62 481 113 42 68 8 61.54%

The table explains itself and may help you with finalising your 25-man squad for the start of the 2011 season.  Something else you should consider is their ability to hold or increase their 2011 starting price.  Continue reading

Eels 30 – Panthers 0

Maligned Parramatta halfback Jeff Robson starred on Saturday night as the Eels thrashed Penrith 30-0 in their NRL trial at Centrebet Stadium. Last season the Eels chased a string of high-profile halfbacks to mentor young five-eighth Daniel Mortimer, but perhaps the answer was under their nose the whole time. Robson, the halfback who took them to the 2009 grand final, was involved in everything, setting up tries with precision passing and kicking while also pulling off try-saving tackles. The Eels cruised home with a comfortable victory in a spiteful and physical, but mostly dour, affair. Continue reading

Eels turn age into experience

They may not have the glitz of a Timana Tahu or a Krisnan Inu, but Parramatta backrower Ben Smith claims NRL opponents can write off the Eels’ `Dad’s Army’ backline at their own peril. The off-season acquisition of veteran three-quarters Chris Walker, Paul Whatuira and Chris Hicks to fill a barren backline was met with some derision by critics, who claimed the trio had passed their used by date following Super League stints. Walker and Hicks are both 30-plus, while Whatuira turns 30 mid-year, with the trio essentially coming in for the departed Tahu (released), Inu (Warriors) and Eric Grothe (retired). The lack of star power out wide threw up the possibility that Smith would go back to his younger days and return to the centres, but he confirmed he would remain in the backrow with Eels coach Stephen Kearney more than happy with his options out wide. Continue reading

McGuire provides spark for Eels

The signing of Casey McGuire by Parramatta in the off-season caused few ripples around the NRL, but on Saturday’s evidence that could soon change.

The 31-year-old former Brisbane utility has returned to Australia from a four-year stint with French side Les Catalans, and looked a class act against West Tigers at Campbelltown as the Eels eased to a 30-10 trial win.

Playing out of dummy-half, McGuire was sharp around the fringes of the ruck and gave Parramatta the energy in attack they so badly lacked last season.

Only Cronulla scoring fewer tries in 2010 as the Eels, pre-season premiership favourites, failed to make the finals. Continue reading

Once the season proper starts I will be looking at each team and some of their key players as we get closer to the start of the silly season – the bye rounds and I’ll use “Dream Team Pro” so at least their will be a bit more information and statistics than last year.

Every year round 9 has a huge impact on coaches with ½ the NRL clubs (8) having their first bye round.  No doubt everyone has had a good look at bye rounds when developing a strategy for the 2011 campaign and finalising your 25-man squad before the round 1 kick of on March 11. 

There is no point in talking about individual players before there is some form on the board so I’ll just point out a couple of other things for the newer coaches to Dream Team that you will need to take into consideration when finalising on your squad.  Continue reading

Warriors worry the Eels

Three second-half tries saw the Warriors beat Parramatta 24-4 in Saturday’s NRL trial match at Rotorua’s International Stadium on Saturday. Tries to Manu Vatuvei and new signing, former Eel, Krisnan Inu gave the Warriors a narrow 8-4 halftime lead, with second rower Taniera Lasalo crossing to pull one back for the Eels. Rookie Warrior Glen Fisiiahi impressed with a brace of tries in the second half, Lewis Brown scoring the last to give Ivan Cleary’s side an encouraging 20-point win. The Warriors were without James Maloney, out through illness, with Isaac John called in as a late replacement to partner former Junior Warriors captain Elijah Taylor in the halves. Continue reading

Premiership talisman Paul Whatuira is desperate to repay the faith at Parramatta, but isn’t promising a premiership.Whatuira, who won grand finals with Penrith in 2003 and the Wests Tigers two years later, was thrown a lifeline by the Eels for 2011 after a troubled stint in the UK Super League. If he was to notch a third premiership ring this year, he would equal Glenn Lazarus’s record of three titles at three different NRL clubs. The former Test prop won competitions with Canberra, Brisbane and Melbourne. “No, it’s a long season ahead and a lot of hard work goes on in the background,” he told reporters. “All I want to do is, if my opportunity comes, I’ll take it with both hands and hopefully I can front up for the team and play some good football.” Continue reading