Eels Blogs

Football Intelligence. What is it? How do the Eels rank? And which individual players are letting the team down?

After watching the NRL from a coaches point of view for many years, one of the most underated components to a football team I believe is football Intelligence. So what is it?

Football intelligence is based around the split-second decisions the individual players make on the football field. This generally includes components such as:

- staying on your man in defence

- not shooting out of the line unnecessarily in defence

- tackling opponents efficiently to quickly get out of the ruck and square with the play the ball

- getting back the 10 metres efficiently while defending

- focusing on catching the ball before looking up at the defence

- holding the ball tight and safely

- not kicking the ball unnecessarily before 5th tackle

- being in the right position at the right time in attack and defence

- not offloading the ball when unnecessary and in a dangerous situation

- not passing the ball when to much pressure on the player (suicide pass)

- knowing what situation the team is and adapting your play to the situation

- not giving away unforced and silly penalties (such as being in front of the kicker, obstructing the defence as a decoy runner or not playing the ball correctly)

- forwards running straight and not sideways

- and there are many other components that i cant think of right now, can you think of any?

All of these components seem simple but these are the things that the best players in the NRL do well. A player that encompasses football intelligence is Cameron Smith. Smith is not fast or strong but what he is, is extremely intelligent in both attack and defence. This attribute makes Smith one of the best players to ever play the game.

So how do the Eels rank when it comes to football intelligence? From watching intently at individual players this year I believe the Eels have some of the most unintelligent footballers in the NRL. One thing that I want to make clear is that a lack of football intelligence doesnt mean a lack of intelligence in daily life. These individual players I believe are not making the right split-second desicions throughout our games this year.

There is no doubt that every individual in the Eels team this season has plenty of passion to do well for club and coach. But passion is only one of the components of a successful team. Two other major components are skill level (I believe Eels are around average in this component) and football intelligence (i believe the Eels rank last in this component). So which individual players are letting the team down?

I believe the players letting the team down when it comes to football intelligence to be:

- Will Smith

- Brad Takairangi

- Peni Terepo

- Siosaia Vave

- Cameron King

- Suaia Matagi

- Tepai Moeroa

- Josh Hoffman

- Kirisome Auva'a

- Kane Evans

Even though these players might show plenty of skill or passion with the amount of errors, penalties and bad decisions these players are making consistently in both attack and defence, I believe they are not first grade standard and are having a negative impact on other players in the team (especially our halves). 

With the way the game is going with more penalties and and more intricate and complicated play to attack and defend, I believe football intelligence is only going to become more important and the development of football intellegence through juniors is crucial. If we continue to sign, re-sign and develop unintelligent footballers we will not be seeing any success in the future. 

Two up and coming players with massive amounts of football intelligence and massive futures are Cameron Murray and Victor Radley. These are the type of players I would like the Parramatta Eels to develop and sign.

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  • You could add Corey Norman to that list and a few other as well. Perhaps the coaches themselves don’t have ‘Football Intelligence’ and hence it’s not instilled into their players.

  • Interested in who you rate for football intelligence in our side then?

    I don't know if I'd define a lot of this stuff as football intelligence - I probably relate that more squarely to understanding the flow of the game, and being able to react to that. I think a lot of the stuff you've spoken about, I'd probably put down to concentration. 

    I know from first-hand experience it's a difficult thing to coach into young kids, but probably even more difficult to develop as an adult.

    • I think it has a lot to do with instincts. Jarryd Hayne has great instincts, I think Moses has football intelligence, he is still very raw, I think he is still better suited to 5/8. I also thing Gower is also a very clever footballer
    • I would say Manu Mau is a good example of a player with high football intelligence in our team. As for the definition I couldnt come up with anything better so football intelligence it was :)

  • Great blog King. Couldn’t agree more. You can add Ken Edwards (although now gone) and Kaysa Pritchard and at times Michael Jennings. Football intelligence also has a lot to do with instincts and anticipation, reacting to a drop ball, reading what the opposition is doing before they do it, anticipating a bad bounce and being in position to cover it up. One area Parra lack is the ability to change the line of a run to hit a hole. Intelligent football players are also innovative and usually push the boundaries of rules eg Cronks flat kick across field, Melbourne storm wrestling, Storm cap cheating, holding players in the scrum to prevent them from breaking, Smith passing the ball into a player in the ruck to get a penalty, Sterlos trick plays, Richie Mccaw is known for pushing the rules to gain an advantage. Adapting to the way referees are controlling the game, eg if they are not blowing penalties, get off your line and in the face of the opposition, if they are, get onside.
  • BTW you can’t coach it, you have it or you don’t
  • There is intuition and playing smart.

    Bevan and Hayne have great footy intuition and are often in the right spot at the right time and their bodies know what to do.

    Cameron Smith is a smart player, knows when to hold and when to fold (understands probability) and knows how to organise his troops and influence the refs

  • having players  seriously learn to how to read a game and how to adapt to changing a response  is not an easy task but should be a major consideration in a players CV when signing up players.Smarts will always beat Physicality and poor impulse management

  • Hayne plane management is so wrong about Hayne need not too be trust he walk out of a club which everyone believed he wonted but I do and he shouldn't be trusted beacuse he walk out of Parramatta Eels again
    • Sorry Kim -I don,t agree with you--He had a childhood dream to play NFL --took the risk---Not many people would have the balls to do it---Ill advised to go to the titans.-we all make life errors --hopefully my dream for him to become  a heritage Parra legend will come true

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