Eels Gun could be Knights Bound

The Eels are in danger of losing rising back-rower Toni Mataele to Newcastle next season. The Knights are showing huge interest in the 17-year-old, who is still growing and weighs in at an impressive 105kg. A Parra junior, Mataele has Tongan heritage and represented NSW under 16s in 2018. He has met with new Knights coach Adam O'Brien and the pair established an immediate rapport.

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  • With so many other young players in the eels system, it really becomes a point of how many can be kept by the club.

    At 17 now, he's not likely to get a run in the NRL squad for at least 3 years unless he's better than the current back rowers on contract, is he still at school or in a job? at his current age he will take up some time travelling up there for training, unless he is billeted out with locals.

  • Will be very hard to keep them when clubs start paying them big dollars and making promises at a young age, maybe there needs to be a cap on development but then clubs with bigger nurseries will always be disadvantaged.I guess it's just a punt and hope you pick the right kids.Dave  Hollis was originally picked up by Newcastle so goes both ways I guess.

    • I'm waiting for the typical Parramatta comment here!!!!!

      We should sack someone just to make the fans happy.....O'Neil? nah! he seems to be going ok but he better get his act together, if this kid plays FG in the next 2 years....O'Neil's gone.

      Maybe we should be get some sacrificial goats.....every time we lose one we sacrifice a Goat....keeps the God's happy?


  • Sadly we have some clubs developing players while others just pick who they want once these juniors show their potential. I have always thought there should be a way of rewarding the clubs that are development clubs depending on how many make it through to the NRL. I understand we can't keep them all & wouldn't expect to, however I was watching a game a few years ago with Parra V Dogs & in that game there were 7 players that were all Cabra juniors ( Parra District ) A lot of time & money goes into getting these kids prepared but there is no reward to the clubs doing all the hard work. I don't have the answer to what should be done, but also the NRL are not paying me large amounts of money to do so, but it certainly isn't a fair system at the moment. I would love to see the reward around the clubs salary cap depending on how many make the top grade so the more players that make it through to the NRL regardless of who they play for, the more benifit to the developing club.

    • Agreed Coach, maybe there should be some salary cap dispensation for juniors coming through the system, like there is for long serving players. No doubt clubs like Melbourne and Easts will work around this, but it would provide some incentive for clubs to develop their own players rather than just take the easy option and poach  players from other clubs to fill their roster.

      • The rewards should be going to the junior clubs themselves, not the NRL clubs. So using Jim's example, Cabramatta would be financially rewarded for producing those 7 players who are playing in the NRL. They are after all the ones who have done the actual hands on, nuts & bolts development.

        • I think we are talking about the players contracted to Parramatta in the junior grades. How does Parramatta get compensated for doing this work? Why does the club bother if they can just go to the market and poach from other clubs areas?

          • Well, this topic came up when Stephano Utoikamanu signed with the Tigers and I got into it with 60's over on TCT. 

            The way I see it until such time as they sign an NRL contract, whether its a top 30 or development contract, they aren't Eels players. If they're Flegg, SG Ball or Harold Matts players they aren't Eels players IMO.


            • Brett i see that view from a local club perspective but these players get selected in large train on squads, then train during off season with similar type players along with specialist coaching (we hope) and then compete against other highly skilled players while in club gear; i see both views. They also have the chance to train alongside the nrl players with those clubs.

              The NRL imo will never intorduce fees for clubs; as much as i think it has merit.


            • If the player signs a contract with the Eels, is coached by Eels staff and plays in Eels gear then they're Eels players. Every one of those juniors costs so much for us to develop. There should be a transfer fee if other clubs sign a player from another club's junior ranks. The only incentive at the moment for clubs to put money into development is the hope you'll develop a top quality talent, preventing you from buying one. Which is essentially what we managed to do in the late 90s and early-mid 2000s.

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