Alicia ReporterTimestampWed 16 Jun 2021, 08:01 AM


Little-known Parramatta outside back Sean Russell is the latest debutant called upon by Eels coach Brad Arthur less than a month after celebrating Jakob Arthur's maiden game at Magic Round.

Arthur has picked the teenager on the wing for the battle against the Bulldogs in a further sign Blake Ferguson's days are numbered at the club.

Ferguson scored a try and ran for 171 metres in reserve grade last week but failed to earn a recall despite Maika Sivo accepting a one-match ban for a grade two careless high tackle on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old has been included in the reserves but is unlikely to be a late inclusion.

Eels five-eighth Dylan Brown said Ferguson remained motivated to get back into the NRL side.

"We've all been through it and all had our slumps," Brown said.

We all have times we have to work on a few things. Brad has sent him down to reserve grade and I feel like he's responded well.

"Every year could be your last in footy so for Ferg, it shows he's been working hard. He'll be back and be better."

Russell, who has scored eight tries in 12 games in NSW Cup this season, travelled to Brisbane last month to be part of the Arthur family celebrations after close mate Jakob's first NRL appearance.

The pair have come through the club's junior and school system at Patrician Brothers Blacktown together, Russell training with the main Eels squad over the pre-season.

The 19-year-old has floated between fullback and wing in the lower grades this year and will partner Tom Opacic on the right edge in one of four changes made by Arthur this week.

Arthur has dropped Bryce Cartwright to the reserves with Keegan Hipgrave earning a recall to the bench, while Will Smith drops out of the 21-man squad.

The Eels have struck two blows in recent wins over the Knights and Wests Tigers but Brown said Arthur had been far from satisfied with the side's performances.

There's plenty to work on, Brad came in and he wasn't smiling," Brown said.

"The fact we could've scored more and with the 12 players they had. We started playing silly and chasing points.

"It's still mid-season so we've got plenty of time. There were obviously good parts but we can't get ahead of ourselves.

"If you look at the Bulldogs they're coming off a massive performance so will be humming this week."

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  • Sounds like BA sees the 2022 starting squad looking very different to the 2021 starting squad .  I'm curious about the JA situation . Where do we play him next year ?  He's obviously not going to be sitting in reserves next year. 

    • I don't see why not Wiz. He definitely needs to fill out before he is truly ready. Another couple of seasons won't hurt JA. He's probably been promoted slightly ahead of schedule with that understanding. 

      • Agree Brett, he still needs another good 2 years in reggie's I reckon. He's now had a taste, and will no doubt know his place in the pecking order and needs to improve his deficiencies back down a grade. He's still a kid with years of footy in front of him, but that taste of NRL will surely have him hungry to keep improving.

        There's been a lot of talk about who was dropped etc., I still don;t know if dropped is the right term, I'd love to know if it was just rotations, changing combinations, different game plan against the Dogs - there could be a multitude of reasons for the team changes. Whatever the reasons, gives us an opportunity to have a look at another new face in the top grade and see how a few of the blokes we haven't seen for a bit go. 

      • Brett , there's no way on Earth the kids gong to sit there after having the taste .  He is an inch of being ready to play NRL full time .  This " needs to fill out " line that keeps popping up is ridiculous, he's about the same size as Moses and bigger than Walker .  He can bulk up in a month these days if needed to.   By next season the kids going to be ready to play NRL . 

        • I hope you're a better judge than some, Wiz, because he's bog average and only ever got a game because of his old man if you ask a few blokes on here!!! I think another 12 months or more against men is what he needs, just my opinion, especially after being just out of school. Week in week out is tough for kids, the first few weeks they're running on adrenaline, but after that it gets tougher and tougher,  notwithstanding oppositions work you out pretty quick.

        • It's not bulk, it's core strength. If he is determined to leave, then so be it. He's not replacing Mitch or Dylan anytime soon. 
          You don't think he hasn't already had this particular conversation with his old man ?

          In playmaker terms, he's still in nappies, he's a baby. When you consider that it's taken Mitch until age 26 for the game to really slow down for him, there is absolutely no rush for JA. 

          • But is MM really that gifted ?  I'd suggest the games come backwards to MM's level in regards to the quality of player than it is MM having kicked up a gear and really grasped his role .  

            I remember another kid that was too small @18 , couldn't tackle , and was free to leave if he likes cause Shifty and Braith aren't going anywhere . 

            its inevitable Jakob is going to be in this team by next year , a kid doesn't get a run and score/ create a couple of try's and then just sit in reggies for the next 18 months .  What BA pictures it looking like should be interesting .  Any examples of this happening ? I can't think of any . 

        • He may well be ready to play first grade next year but if he does I can't see it happening at Parra. Both Moses and Brown are way better than Jacob so he won't get either of their spots.

          He will have to bide his time here for a few more years or go elsewhere. 

          Not seen a lot of Russell so hope he goes good.

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