Most impressive and disappointing: Trial week 2 v Gold Coast

Finally, the off-season is technically officially over. Cricket season passed, tennis season passed, Christmas, New years all gone, now to the game they play in heaven. My word was it shivers down my spine watching the game yesterday, making me realise how much i missed it. Parramatta are back and played well overall. Again, the issue with trials is you cannot gauge too much as sometimes teams can show their worth in trials while others show nothing and come out of nowhere and perform or vice versa. That is why i lean towards judging the players at this stage. Our starters had rust, we scored some good tries though luck involved, most if not all premierships are won by luck. Again, since it was pre-season i will not do stats, that will be back for Round 1 v Canterbury.

 

Most Impressive: 

Bryce Cartwright: This is weird since he had 8 missed tackles, but he was that good overall you did not notice the missed tackles. I feared Cartwright may fall of a tad since he has his contract now, but seems he is getting back to where he left off and played aggressive. That is an area credited to BA, making Carty play tougher.

J'Maine Hopgood: 226 metres, 31 tackles with 1 miss. Even for a trial those stats are insane. When you watch him you think "where is the hype?" But it is the 1% he does off the ball that elevates him. Also, his defence has improved. He looks leaner and more mobile which will help him in the middle.

Sean Russell: Going to nickname him "He-Man" after seeing the size of his arms. Makes his 2022 self look like a twig. I didn't see how he could get that big. He also seems to be handling the change of weight very well. Apart from one defensive error allowing too much room, Russell was great. He had tough runs, hardworking and defensively one on one he was really good with tough hits. He just seems to be a good well rounded player. He finished the game at Centre and compared to last year where he was pushed off by palms, he is now stronger in his defensive efforts. He could make a very good Centre eventually.

Will Penisini: He looks primed for a big year alongside Rusty. Looked more comfortable and confident in his ability, plus even more so seemed to be comfortable with the space around him. What i mean is he dragged the attack towards the sideline yet did not panic and made space to get an offload or to make metres back inside. Just wish he would develop a great scooting game like Justin Hodges, it would start our sets even better.

Morgan Harper: I would lean towards starting him Round 1 over Simonsson. Defence and attacking wise he looked calmer. For Sivo, who has had defensive issues, having a Centre that is more defensive is better at this stage. Harper, oddly enough, is better and more comfortable defending. Harper had 6 runs for 68 metres. More than 11 metres per run which is really good. He is bigger too. But we have seen Sivo perform better with defensive Centres like Opacic and Jennings. Harper could be that.

Most Disappointing:

Joey Lussick: Could be rust, could be me being harsh but Lussick looked off to me. His passing from dummy half was off and a tad slow, defensively seemed off the pace keeping up in the middle. When Hands came on to replace him we ran a bit better. I spent all off-season stating though i feel both Hookers are similar in ability with different positives and negatives that level them out. I also said Lussick will start as he is more experienced and trusted by BA. But seeing how Hands has been used this pre-season it seems BA has been very pleased with how he has improved and honestly i would start him over Lussick. 

Matterson Injury: Seems he could miss round 1 and it is a shame. I was theorising that he was just not used but upon seeing those at the game say he was hobbling, i retract it and say it is a shame as for some reason he needed to fight for his spot. Not saying Matterson should be given a spot, but his form over the years should show he is the best bench forward we have. Our bench forwards are going to come in underdone, If Matto is out too it weakens us. It is a shame as he would have gotten big minutes yesterday.

Tuilagi fitness: Tuilagi was good, do not get me wrong, but he is nowhere near ready to be an 80min back-rower. At this stage i know i am nitpicking.

Edge defence: Yeah, speed got us bady one the edge. Jamming in with cover around the back type of defence can work but Gold Coast got a little deeper making it harder for the cover to get into space and speed took up space faster. It has been a problem since BA started. Hell it was a problem before BA, seems to be a club thing. But Gold Coast worked us out, a better club will do it and make it more impactful.

 

Ok that is it, it was great to have the game back, the game gods play. Overall we looked good, even Junior Paulo looked to have a point to prove. Cannot wait for Round 1, but i also feel necassary for myself to put in what i think the Round 1 team will be to round out pre-season

1. Gutherson

2. Dunster

3. Penisini

4. Harper

5. Russell

6. Brown

7. Moses

8. RCG

9. Lussick

10. Paulo

11. Lane

12. Cartwright

13. Hopgood

14. Hands

15. Greig

16. Ofahengaue

17. Tuilagi

18. Asi

19. Lumelume

20. Ogden

21. Makatoa

22. Talagi

Simonsson and Matto will more likely be out with injuries and Sivo with suspension.

Enjoy your week and Vegas. God bless Parramatta.

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  • Great post m8, yep Lussick looked clumsy at times in hooker, looked lost when there was a offload thrown to him by the forwards. 
    I think Harper will be good for us 

  • 12389603701?profile=RESIZE_400x

    • I am terrified.

  • Great stuff, LB. Good to have you back writing these for another season - loved the passion in your opening paragraph.

    Agree with everything you mention in the most impressive.

    The most impressive aspect overall for me was the energy & intent the Eels played with - well done to BA, he obviously had the players switched onto game mode for this trial & it was awesome to see the mindset for the season ahead (hopefully).

    Especially Penisini, Cartwright (defensively) & D Brown, players who can at times lapse a little in concentration, all seemed very switched on. Like you, I was really impressed with Hopgood defensively also, if he & Hands can continue to develop there it might go along way to fixing our ruck issues of the past. 
     
    Mentioned last week, and it’s just opinion, but feel if Penisini can be the break out player this season it would be very beneficial to our chances, and he looked great. As you said, more confident, but also his physicality - getting him into running from dummy half is a great shout too.
     
    He reminds me a little of Bradman Best in that there was a lot of hype, and you could always see potential, but eventually with enough first grade experience it all just clicks. Clicked for Best last season, feel (hope) this could be Penisini’s year.
     
    Defensively - I actually thought it looked quite good (outside a few costly mistakes), definitely in intent, but even in some of the movement, seemed more unified, at least at times. Will be an interesting watch.
     
    Looking forward to round 01.
     
    Nice work, LB.
  • Maybe it was just me, but Lussick seemed to be struggling with speed of the game. Don't think he's our answer.

    • Yeah i agree, the speed of the game made him clumsy. Even at dummy half he was slow and couldn't keep up with Brown and Moses playing speed.

  • Thanks for the write up LB. I only got to see parts of the game, so it's good to get your insights.

  • Lussick is a deadset plodder, there is a reason he's played most of his career in England.  We look a much better side with Hands out there.  That said they are both keeping the spot warm for the 73kg garden Gnome Sprog Jr.

    • 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    • Ain't that the truth Al...

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