R8 v Manly: The Rise and Fall of the Eels

 

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The free-falling Eels are staring down the barrel of another nail in their season’s coffin. They sit like ducks in the target arrow of the public's microscope just waiting to dissect their ANZAC performance.

Despite the Eagles superior position and form, both the Eels and Eagles have struggled for consistency this year.

The Eagles have only won back-to-back games once (R1-R2) this year, whilst the Eels have not won back-to-back games yet and are facing two straight losses.

The Eels defence has fallen off a cliff, now 14th (conceding 25.7 per game)whilst the Eagles aren’t much better at 13th (conceding 22.3 per game). 

The Eels attack is also disintegrating, now 11th (19.9 per game), whilst the Eagles are 5th best (25.9 per game).

Essentially, the Eels are taking off from the 2023 season and regressing further.  

Since the R18, 2023 bye the Eels have been conceding over 36 points a game outside Commbank. 

Since then, Eels have only won 6 of 15 (40%). In this period, at Commbank, they have won 5 of 8 (63%) at an average score of 21.3 - 24.1 per game. But, outside Commbank, they have only won 1 of  7 (14.3%) at an average score of 16.6 - 36.1 per game.

With Sportsbet, the Eagles are 6th ($15) in the pecking order of title favourites, whilst the Eels are 11th ($51) have slipped to mid-tier, in the also-ran log-jam. The Eels are just behind the Dolphins (9th, $41) and Raiders (10th, $46), and just ahead of the Dragons (12th, $56) and the Dogs and Rabbits (both equal 13th, $61). For the top-tier teams, the Panthers (1st, $3.25) are still the premiership favourites followed by the Broncos (2nd, $4.5), Storm (3rd, $.650), Roosters (4th, $10), Sharks (5th, $13), Eagles (6th, $15), Warriors (7th, $15), and yo-yoing Cowboys (8th, $23) who round out the top eight. The bottom-tier, bottom-three wooden spoon candidates are between the Ponga-less Knights (15th, $81), fledgling Tigers (16th, 151) and Tino-less Titans (17th, $501).

Teams

Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jason Saab 3. Tolutau Koula 4. Reuben Garrick 5. Tommy Talau 6. Luke Brooks 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Taniela Paseka 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Josh Aloiai 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Corey Waddell 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Karl Lawton 15. Ethan Bullemor 16. Matthew Lodge 17. Nathan Brown 18. Aaron Woods 19. Jakob Arthur 20. Jaxson Paulo 21. Dean Matterson 22. Gordon Chan Kum Tong

Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Morgan Harper 5. Bailey Simonsson 6. Ethan Sanders 7. Dylan Brown 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Joey Lussick 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Ryan Matterson 13. J’maine Hopgood 14. Brendan Hands 15. Makahesi Makatoa 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Kelma Tuilagi 18. Sean Russell 19. Luca Moretti 20. Daejarn Asi 21. Wiremu Greig 22. Blaize Talagi

The big news for the Eels is Sanders coming in at six to partner Brown. With Sanders taking over from Talagi’s old position, it seems it’s an admittance that the Blaize-Brown halves combination failed. But, it's bitter sweet for the Eels as Sanders' three-year deal with the Raiders has also been announced today; exquisite timing. Sivo also comes in for Russell on the wing, whilst Hands comes in for Moretti who drops out of the 17. Eels fullback Clint Gutherson has scored 40 points in his past four games against the Sea Eagles.

The speed and skills of Saab, Koula, Tom Trbojevic and even Garrick could cause all sorts of headaches for the Eels out wide. Tom Trbojevic has scored four tries in his past five games. Meanwhile, Reuben Garrick has scored 11 tries in 11 games against the Eels.

 

The Eels' 4 Pines Park Struggles

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Though the Eels have won 4 of the last 5 (80%) against Manly, the Eels have struggled at 4 Pines Park. 

The Eels have only won once at Four Pines in the last five outings (20%) over six years, since 2018, with an average losing score of  21.6 - 33.2 per game; regardless of whether Moses has played or not.

The TIO Titanic

In round six, Manly only just pipped the Titans 34-30, a symptom of their defensive woes, so are looking for their second back-to-back win.

However, the Eels are staring at back-to-back losses after imploding beyond old testament proportions, in the humiliating 16-44 upset loss at the hands of the Dolphins at sultry TIO, Darwin.

It was the Eels third-straight loss there since 2022, at an average losing score of 12 - 35 points per game in that period.

James Graham, on The Monday scrum, hit out against the Eels’ continued use of home games in Darwin.

“You know what used to irk me? When the Bulldogs used to take some of our home games and play the Warriors in New Zealand. Just not in Auckland, cheers."

"They’re great for numbers, but for us the players, it made our jobs significantly harder.”

Obviously, the financial returns are lucrative. An offer too good for our board to turn down, besides all the hooplah about promoting the game in the NT.

Billy Slater, on his Monday (22/4) podcast also pointed out that the conditions meant that the Eels were more likely to collapse quicker.

"When the heat really came on, pardon the pun because it was hot up there... But when you're in those conditions and you play football it just puts you under pressure quicker and they couldn't handle the pressure."

12434512079?profile=RESIZE_710xThe Eels imploded at TIO, Darwin, 16-44 against the Dolphins for their 3rd-straight loss there | Getty Images

And collapse quickly, quicker than the Titanic, they did.

The Eels were leading 10-4 at the 49th minute and seemingly in some control of a mundane, error-riddled encounter.

But 25 minutes later the Dolphins piled on 40 unanswered points, eight unanswered tries, to make it 10-44 by the 74th.

0-40 in 25 minutes.

Arthur was scathing after the game, fortunate not to swallow a few water bottles whole.

So, what's the matter with us?

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 A frustrated Dylan Brown, against the Dolphins, after yet another belting | Getty Images

Arthur: The players need to fix it, don’t they?

Brad Arthur was scathing in round seven press conference calling them "part-time footy players" who "gave up" in the second half when the pressure got too much.

The players have to fix it. We can only talk about it so many times. The players have to fix it don’t they?

Arthur asks a rhetorical question at the R7 post-game presser

Today, facing the media, the senior players co-captains Clint Gutherson and Junior Paulo as well as Campbell-Gillard. all were on board with what Arthur said, taking responsibility for their performance.

 “It’s not panic stations, but it’s a bit of a wake-up call for the whole team", Campbell-Gillard added.

It's “a little embarrassing” adding the "onus is on us (the players)" not Arthur.

"Everyone respects what he (Arthur) says and what he does." Gutherson said.

"We’re letting him, the coaching staff, the club and the fans down at the moment. It’s on us."

"It shouldn't take this long to get a reaction, but it is what it is."

Gutherson also pointed out that "the truth hurts" but “It's not the end of the world".

That was a far cry from his mid-game hype against the Cowboys (a R6, 27-20win), "I hate losing. I want to win every moment" and a game he was cheering for every small win the Eels had. 

It's not the first time Arthur question the players’ desire and physicality.

One only needs to go back to R22, 2022, Arthur's best year, after being belted 26-0 by Souths. An honesty session followed that game, too, which resulted in a late season month-long or so surge and the journey to the grand final with Arthur “seeing a difference in their eyes”.

Will we see a similar response this time round?  We should see some bounceback, right?

At least for a while.

Is it merely fixable attitude issues or is it something more terminal? 

The week has seen a plethora of opinions. Arthur simply puts it down to the players' soft attitude. Many put it down to the coach, and his limitations, with the need for a "new voice". Others due to culture and even an inept R & R committee and footy board devoid of footy IQ and nous. In all likelihood, it is probably a combination of all factors. An interconnected circle without a quick fix.

 

Along with the usual suspects like Brent Reed,  Braith Anasta, and James Hooper wrote a blog yesterday entitled Eels face the ultimate question; Is it time for a change? It’s working for others. Most of the media, except for Paul Kent, were singing the same tune: Arthur is “good coach” but with an “old voice”.

It’s the coaches' job to get the players to play well.

Brent Read, Monday Scrum, 23 April 2024, with James Graham 

 

Billy Slater, on his Monday podcast pointed out the obvious.

There are certainly some issues at Parramatta and alarming issues.

Billy Slater, Monday Podcast, R7 review, 22 April 2024

“Absolutely there are some issues because Nathan Cleary who is arguably the best player in the competition, he hasn't been at the Penrith Panthers for the best part of a month and they seem to be doing okay.”

 

Cameron Smith in Monday Round Seven Review (22/4), his utlined the major problem with the Eels issues, (from 16:30-19:00)

It’s all about their attitude. If you concede 44 points in a match, clearly, your mind wasn’t where it needs to be.

Cameron Smith, Monday Podcast, R7 review, 22 April 2024

 

“Now, what was it? Because you went to Darwin? It’s a bit of a holiday for us. We’re playing outside our norm. The mind is a little more relaxed," Smith continued.

“Was it because we’re playing against the Dolphins and there’s no Hammer, there’s no Felise Kaufusi, there’s no Fledgler, there’s no Herbie Farnworth - and they thought well this is a team that only joined last year, we’ve got a better footy side, we’ll just turn up and it’ll happen for us. It’s all attitude. That’s all it is. Take away the fact there’s no Mitch Moses. It’s a purely an attitude thing. They didn’t want to roll up their sleeves. The Dolphins compete, even if they don’t play their best."

However, despite the heavy criticism, Smith shows his optimistic streak.

With a line up like Parramatta’s, I’m not writing Parramatta off yet. They’ve still got enough good players (to comeback).

Cameron Smith, 22 April 2024

 

"I can’t say they’re gone. It’s only round seven. It can be done. I’m not writing off Parramatta yet."

 

On 100% Footy, Gus Gould (at 18:30) explains that the Eels' woes are due to a big-picture lack of planning, pathways and culture are the problem - not the coach. 

Gus puts the blowout disintegration down to a build up of frustration over the last few weeks bubbling over.

"You and I were covering that game on Friday night. And Parramatta were leading 8-4 just after half-time and I turned to you and said, if the Dolphins score next, they'll win this. You can just see it in the body language. The first half was terrible. It was one of the worst games of football you could imagine. Both sides were struggling."

"But the Dolphins did enough to keep themselves in it. And showed far more spark after half-time."

"After they scored the first one (after halftime), Parramatta just totally disintegrated.  Look at the work here of the Parramatta side.  Not getting back on onside. Not chasing kicks. Not working for each other."

"Brad Arthur is not the trouble with why Parramatta are where they are now."

"In all the time that I have followed Parramatta, and I was a Parramatta junior, they have never really set up their pathways properly."

"They've never produced a culture, a character of their own, that's brought through the grades with young fellas wanting to be there and a part of the club. And that in the end becomes the problem of the head coach."

"In the end, that becomes the problem for the head coach, who is trying to win games today when no one has really planned adequately for the future."

"Someone has got to take that responsibility - that's not Brad Arthur's responsibility."

"They have great sides in the junior representative fields but it doesn't transition through to a culture or stream of players coming through in the club."

"It's become exhausting for him now."

 

Dr Jauncey's Big Four

Dr Phil Jauncey, Bennett’s long-time trusted right-hand lieutenant who has something to do with the fight and spirit shown at the Dolphins as well as Bennett's former premiership winning teams from Broncos and Saints, puts poor performances down to four factors where players:

1. don’t know what to do; and what their role is

2. don’t know how to do something; how to do what they’re supposed to do

3. don’t have the talent or resources to perform (obviously fitness, strength, speed, skill and father time are factors)

4. choose to not perform, often unknowingly, all to do with the processes before and during a game including players’ personal lives in both their emotional and mental spheres. Here, mentally they switch their winner’s “computer” brain off switches off from winner’s “A” to loser’s “Z” mode. They’re not focused on their processes - but other things. 

Jauncey, largely the extroverted optimist, generally concludes the fourth reason is the most common reason why elite sports people fail to perform.

Essentially, he re-frames the idea of “poor attitude” and “motivation”, seeing them as largely useless conceptions and judgements, preferring to see the solution in terms of “actions” and “processes”, loosely related to habit patterns.

I relate this to a Vincent Lombardian notion of collective habit patterns of players, like the mantra, “you don’t decide your future, you decide your habits, and your habits decide the future.”

Putting apart the damning stats, which we will explore soon, my eye test suggests it could be a combination of more than the fourth factor.

For instance, their systems to do with roles without Moses seem lost and headless and even worse without Asi, concernedly. It’s almost as if they’re headless without a steering wheel. Arthur can’t escape responsibility, here, too, as he sets up the systems.

However, as suggested a few weeks ago in the review there are other more fundamental issues beneath the surface.

It was a question raised a few weeks ago - with the rebuild question - in the round five preview.

Actually, the Eels have had warning signs surrounding their culture throughout the Arthurian era.

But, it's now the drums are beating louder.

 

Approaching the half-century of blowout losses

Considering it’s Arthur’s 49th NRL blowout loss of an 18-point margin or more as Eels’ coach, in eleven seasons at the helm, you would think he’d be used to it somewhat.

It was only two weeks ago, the Eels were once again smashed 41-8 against the Raiders at GIO in round five. 

Against the odds, they found a way to win the following week to upset the Cowboys 27-20 at Commbank - although the Cowboys were just demolished 42-6 by the Sharks in round seven. It's typical of the Eels' off-on week-on-week-off Sybilian culture.

2024 is the first time in the Arthurian era that the team has conceded two 20-point plus margin blowout losses - by round seven. That last happened in the double spoon-winning years of 2012-13 under the disastrous Kearney-Stuart epoch.

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You can see during Arthur's era there has been a constant supply of blowout losses even when the Eels were at their peak during 2019-2022.

Three of the last four years have seen between 20%-29% ratio of blowout losses. That's about one every four to five weeks on average.

To put that in perspective: the Eels are closer to the worse end of the spectrum. Since 2020, Penrith has experienced four 18+ blowouts at 3.6% (4 / 111) to date. Over the same period, Arthur's squad has had twenty in total including all finals appearances. The Tigers were the worst team in the competition over 2022-23, winning two wooden spoons and only 16.7% of games (won 8 / 48), and during that time they had a blowout loss ratio of 37.5% (18 / 48).

 

Can't perform week-to-week

Another concern during the Arthur era is the inability to win week-to-week. The Eels' are consistently inconsistent, and always have been. They are Sybil.

Arthur has had one six-straight win in his tenure which happened in 2017, seven years ago.

Compare that to Brian's Smith's era where the Eels were able to achieve up to 11-straight win sequences.

This is more evidence of cultural issues not being able to perform for too long.

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Another major concern, and perhaps the most alarming, is the regression of the Eels.

 

The Rise and Fall of the Eels

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The 2019-20 rebuild saw the rise of the Eels’ that reached its zenith in the 2022 grand final. 

But, since 2022 we have seen a regressive cycle of decline on many levels from a falling ladder position to disintegrating defence.

In 2019-2020 we saw a massive player changeover. Dylan Brown (debuted in 2019), Junior Paulo (returned from Canberra in 2019-now), Reagan Campbell-Gillard (2020-now), Shaun Lane (2019-now), Blake Ferguson, (2019-2021), Waqa Blake (2019-2023), and Maiko Sivo (2019-now). They all came in to compliment the pre-existing core of Gutherson (2016-now), Moses (2017-now), Nathan Brown (2017-2022), and Reed Mahoney (debuted 2018-2022). Out went Corey Norman, Jarryd Hayne, Beven French, Kenny Edwards (all left in 2018), Beau Scott (lasted 2 games in 2018) and a little later Manu Ma'u (left in 2019). Following that, key new recruits and juniors were strewed over the team over the next few years: Will Penisini (2021-now), Bryce Cartwright (2021-now), J'maine Hopgood (2023-now), and Isaiah Papali'i (2021-2022).

There was a lot of influx of talent and skill that saw the rise of the Eels and four years of consecutive finals, staying in the top eight.

2024 is the worst start to an Eels season in seven years since 2018 (when we were running 16th at round seven and ended last).

This time round a rebuild could revolve around a core of the likes of Moses, Dylan, Hopgood, Penisini, Lomax, and perhaps Cartwright who might last for a while longer and play a role. There's at least 600 NRL games of experience there to offset the 1200 lost. Obviously, fullback, the middles bookends and hooker and a few some "sore loser" tough nuts to steel the defence will be in the more urgent folder soon enough. Tick tock.

Oddly enough, during the Brian Smith era the Eels never hit as low as 14th at round seven mark. 13th at round seven was the lowest, and it happened in Smith’s final year which he didn’t finish.

One interesting difference between the Arthurian and Smith era, referring to the table above, is Arthur's teams seem to rely more on fast starts to the season and not falling off too much, whereas Smith's had solid starts and improved as the season wore on.

In the NRL era the Eels have only made the finals once when ranked 14th or lower: in 2009. But, that was on the back of Hayne, a once in a generation Eels’ player, in a once in a lifetime run - never repeated before or since. The current Eels don’t have that kind of luxury this time. So, there's much work to be done.

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There were warning signs in 2022 when we were 8th ranked defence and the worst defensively of all finalists.

If we use the axiom, defence is a barometer of “attitude” or the Jauncey “doing” and “processes” mindset - then the Eels’ headspace is as close to rock bottom as you want to get.

For the season to date, the Eels defence (14th, fourth-worst, conceding almost 26 points per game) is worse than the spoon year of 2018.

That's the worse in the Arthurian era from 2014.

It the Eels’ worse since 2012-2013 (conceded 28.04 ppg and 30.83ppg respectively).

This season, to date, the Eels concede the most linebreaks in the competitions (6.7 per game) according to current Fox Stats. That's more than the Titans (6.3) and  Souths (5,8) who are in struggle city.

The Eels have conceded 35 points per game on average for the last three weeks. 

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The regression has also co-incided with the aging of senior members of the squad that were instrumental in the Eels’ rise from 2019.

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Gutherson has been a warrior for the Eels, battling along despite knee issues being drained of fluid | Getty Images

Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Junior Paolo, Sivo are a few months shy of 31. Matto, Lane, Gutherson, Cartwright are a few months shy of 30. All are closer to the end of their careers than the middle and playing less consistently than through the peak of their careers. They battle signs are showing. Gutherson is on his last legs and there’s talk of saving some mileage in his legs moving him to the halves. Cartwright seems to have more mileage left, though.

Between those seven and there are around 1200 NRL games of experience, then throw in Big Joe’s 170 odd games into the mix.

Even without Moses there should be plenty of NRL experience to overcome excuses and poor attitude or mindset and to uphold the systems. So, something is very amiss.

12435014286?profile=RESIZE_710x Josh Kerr easily busting through the Eels' middle | Getty Images

When facing young, hungry lions even far less experienced in the ranks of the Tigers, Raiders, and Dolphins, they were beaten to the punch in all the fundamentals. They ran faster and harder than us. They tackled harder than us. They chased harder than us. Like an ageing heavyweight that is a fraction of a second too slow, leading to more regular knockout losses and an eventual demise. Sometimes, a car’s engine and gaskets start to give way. It starts overheating. A rebuild and some new engine parts are needed. 

The Crossroads

Despite all that mammoth NRL experience of our senior leaders and an eleven-year 261 NRL game coach who helped shape and build the team, the Eels have been imploding over the past month and could not stay in the fight against younger lions.

Coupled with all the statistics outlined in this blog, and the poor Cup and lower grades, it suggests there are some serious cultural issues in the club -  top-to-toe.

Arthur though has simplified it, and shifted all the blame on the players’ soft attitude to which the players have given the thumbs up on. Not for the first or last time. 

But, it's also the team he built. If the cattle are soft, he and the R&R committee, board, and pathways  either are incapable of or don't have the nous to recruit, retain or ability to get promising juniors into NRL readiness. 

So, if the coach can’t fix the problems and the senior players' leadership aren’t able to or can’t, who will?

The board have taken the slow and steady, non-knee-jerk reactive approach. Apparently, according to media reports Eels' club officials are looking very closely at how the Eels respond this Friday night; it's supposedly a "big week". Time will tell.

Overall, the stats and eye tests suggest we are in a regressive cycle requiring some form of rebuild - not just more speed, x-factor and athleticism in the backline in the not-too-distant future. 

We could get away with it during the 2019-2022,  offsetting the teams' "off-on" culture of blowouts and inconsistency, as the team was making the finals. There was enough talent recruited and developed to offset the inherent vulnerabilites.

The vulnerabilities could be hidden, then, and we could tolerate the blowouts and Sybilian nature of the Eels. It kept the drums quieter. But, the regression has opened all the floodgates and exposed the ever-present soft underbelly of the Eels to an acute microscope.

Maybe, a new head coaching voice would help. It has helped the Dragons, so far, and the Tigers to an extent. For how long, though, it remains to be seen.

But the board have not shown a willingness to act swiftly on coaching failures. Probably, in part because there isn't a heap of footy based nous in R&R besides Arthur and O'Neil, a fear of the devil you don't know, and a resting on one's laurels in relation to 2019-22 and their financial successes appeasing their strong financial background. They seem to have a "the turtle wins the race not the hare" mentality - hoping or expecting the Eels should make the finals - and get the Arthurian train back on track.

Realistically, the Eels still have too much class and enough powder left to get out of this hole - especially once Moses returns. Incredibly, they are only two points out of the eight. So, the competition's instability helps. And it may help plaster over the cracks when or if the Eels improve.

But the drums are beating. And the clock is ticking - not just on this season.

On Friday night, if history and form guides count, then Manly will be looking to make good on their threats fired in round three, when they shot off to a 14-0 lead after 12 minutes and looked set for a cricket score against our vulnerable defence. And that was against a stronger Moses-led Eels team. 

It’s also likely to be high-scoring as both team’s defence is vulnerable, both collectively conceding almost 50 points per game.

We could see another heavy loss for the Eels if they’re “off” for a while.

But there should be a bounceback from the Eels. Whether it will be enough remains to be seen. Knowing the Eels Jeckle-Hyde persona they may pull off an unlikely win, temporarily getting themselves up for redemption of sorts,  plastering over the craters in their systems and culture.

Either way, history shows we will be returning to all the more serious questions raised here. It is a matter of when, not if. The clock is ticking.

 

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    • Thanks mate. Yeah, you're right, Hugo. Only what they do matters. We should see a bounceback. I think. Hope. Will it be enough to jag a win is another matter. But, with this mob you never know. We could see another blowout loss. Number 50 in Arthur's era.

  • I think it needs a rethink of behind the scenes. As a team and community venture it needs a board more interested in NRL success than pokies revenue. For me nothing has changed with that in the past few years. The football club needs to be stronger as that is what drives everything, in fact that's why it exists in the first place 

    • You do realise the football club and leagues club board's are different entities, don't you?

      • Is not the main part of the football club budget provided by the league's club.? I could be wrong 

        • Any subsidies paid/losses are by the leagues club who are the ultimate owner's. The football club has its own budget with the players salaries paid by NRL under the  salary cap.

          Whilst the Football club was heavily subsidies in terms of its losses back in the day, my understanding is that the football club is /has been in a profit mode for some time.Being Qld based I don't see any accounts that interest me as such.

          Community based projects and similar expenses relative to junior sport development are projects generally run and managed by the Leagues club. 

          Confirming this we should get Super Eel or Muttman who are very to date with these areas.

          • Easy to be in profit mode Pop's when you don't spend much .

            Parramatta's entire football department is made up of bottom of the barrel standard people so they clearly aren't spending much .

            • You are possibly right Frankie, can you get a comparative expense exercise done with other clubs to make this a legitimate comparison..... I get a bit lost when you keep referring to the "bottom of the barrell standard people" ...... I can accept your criticism of what these people do but your judgements of personel standards is a pretty broad brush to apply to a disparate group of people.

              PS What did Steve Sharpe actually do to you, that makes you so unforgiving of him. Careful if you open up an "intelligence" argument as there are cans of worms everywhere in such an assesment. Just imagine if he has dementia or brain damage, would it still sound appropriate?

              Glass houses Frankie?

  •  HOE, monumental effort compiling so much information, statistics & evidence into one blog & keeping it compelling throughout.

     As Frank said, this might just be your best work yet. Thankyou for putting such time in, it's appreciated.
     
    I find it hard to buy into the ‘attitude’ narrative Brad, the players & Cameron Smith are regurgitating.
     
    If Darwin was the outlier, sure, but the frequency of these performances & the cliff-drop defensive statistics over a long period of time, point to far more complex issues, as have been discussed on this site for a while now.
     
    If the core of the problem was simply attitude, it would’ve been fixed after 11 seasons, where we’ve seen many players come & go but ultimately consistent problems have remained. 
     
    Over a long period of time with so much evidence can ‘attitude’ really be an isolated cause? That seems lazy, to me.
     
    Attitude is more a microcosm, or tip of the iceberg, it’s more likely to be the result of XYZ, and not the cause of XYZ, imo.
     
    What that XYZ consists of, we all have theories.
     
    Phil Gould touched on pathways, Captain wrote a great blog around identity this week, Jauncy & yourself speak to habitual, cultural, programming & training (conscious & subconscious), we’ve discussed game plans on here, ageing & non-maintainable strategies, the heavy reliance & workload for forwards & spine due to issues in the outside backs (recruitment) - and as you said, it’s probably likely an ensemble of all or many of them, not simply an ‘attitude’ issue.
     
    All of which point to the Eels looking like a team, coach, club, game plan, strategy, message that is / has been mentally & physically exhausted, to me.
     
    Exhaustion, lack of belief & confidence, can also look like attitude.
     
    There doesn’t need to be a villain either imo, an ability / willingness to evolve & adapt is essential in every industry. 
     
    Jason Nightingale spoke of the changes at the Dragons this week & how they have invested heavily (financially) in their football department - assistant coaches, top of the line conditioning & performance coaches etc - and he couldn’t believe the change in intensity & fitness levels at training.
     
    He feels the Dragons ability to defend their line, their improved resolve, is a testament to that.
     
    It all started with new voices, new strategies, and while the Dragons are still a work in progress, a very similar line up to last season look to have a new lease on life & determination. 
     
    Other clubs are acting, and as you said, the clock is ticking & seems to tick pretty fast in professional sport.
     
    No doubt, the blue & gold defibrillators will be dusted off tomorrow and shock some signs of life into the team after yet another 'wake up call', but we all know, it’s short lived, false hope, & an inevitable return to this part of our circle awaits.
     
    It’s a tough period for Eels fans, we’ve had many, but could be the catalyst we look back on from a far better place down the track. 
     
    Thanks again HOE for the great work & read.
    • Would you two just get a room ffs!12435056095?profile=RESIZE_400x

      • EE, I've tried mate, HOE isnt interested, he has a lovely wife.

        Seriously though, if you put the time into a blog like this, I'd say the same thing. If anyone did. I don't know why you take offence in all honestly because we should all be supporting this kind of effort.

        HOE, Daz, would love to have more hands on deck for these previews, more help. You keen? You have a good perspective of the team / game, you could add some value?

        I know you feel we 'piss in each others pockets' but honestly the time HOE, Daz, LB and others put into blogs I appreciate mate, and don't really care how that comes across because the different perspectives it what makes this site great & without the blogs, what would we discuss?

         

This reply was deleted.

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