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Is The Current Eels Team Lacking Football Intelligence?

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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Good post Sir Col  Bup did a similar one though maintained that you need structure to set up the ad lib style which I agree completely. It’s a about variety to keep them guessing and get the predictable patterns out of your game

Exactly right Tad - I may not have stated that part of my case as well as I could have and agree that structure is necessary, but rigid and inflexible structures will always fail under pressure in any application (Buildings or sport)

Blessed are the flexible for they shall never be bent out of shape.

Defensive structures are one area where "sticking to the plan" (a la the Blues last night) can pay dividends, but rigid and inflexible attacking structures are easily defeated (a la the Eels 2018)

The Panthers are without Maloney and Cleary tonight and going with a  backline of almost entirely Islander backrounds ! Interesting to see if they can defy the logic of most people,  including myself !

I believe the big difference is that some players are athletes and some are footballers. Big difference.


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