Eels Blogs

Stefano Utoikamanu

So for Wenty this weekend, young 19 year old Stefano Utoikamanu is making his starting debut for Wenty. Utoikamanu had disrupted start to his 2019 season, suffering from a syndesmosis injury in a trial sidelined until RD 9. After appearing in a couple of jersey flegg games he's again made the jump to NSW cup appearing in the last three games, including last week where he had 5 runs for 57 metres and 31 tackles, 1 offload and 5 tackle breaks.

Still only a puppy in NRL terms, this kid is starting to gain speed, moving into the starting line-up it will elavate him into NRL contention and with our props underperforming and Stefano in our 30 man squad, a good performance this week end could see Utoikamanu at least in the 21 man squad pushing for a debut. Now let's be clear, Prop is one the hardest positions in the NRL for a kid to debut in, the demands physically and expectations of being a recking ball when you're playing players twice your age and size it will take him some time to be dominant, however the upside is very promising.

Last year he got man of the match for U18's NSW team, scoring three tries and appeared for the Aus schoolboys. With Mannah possibly going, it is the opportunity for Utoikamanu and Kaufusi to develop and be our no.8 and 10 of the future, just like Cayless and Vella back in the day.

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  • Good read. Cheers mate.

  •  He cannot play NRL until June 30, same as Parry, Fainga etc. Don't hold your breath if BA has any input.

    • Disregard, you're right, i saw him in season guide listed in top 30, anyway it's close to June 30 anyway for him to debut.

  • BA has him earnmarked for a run in the 76th min of round 23. Unless we are still in that contest and he'll hold him back to round 24.

    • Haha wouldn’t put it past him

  • There is plenty of time for Stephano, the kid is still in nappies. Spending a full season in the NSW Cup won’t hurt him in the least. 

    • Wrong again Brett, I don't think you understand how damaging it is for an extreme talent to be locked into a dysfunctional environment like reserve grade, nobody learns there.....especially at Wenty and especially with parramatta.

      Fifita from Bronco's was a peer group comparative player with him last year and he is playing origin.

      The reality is that 15 other clubs will be watching Stephano and his father has already shown his dissatisfaction with Parra, any perceived delays in his development will see him gone before we knew we had him. i.e. Klemmer

      Paas is the other peer that he can be compared with. These kids will be physically and mentally tested by playing first grade. Whatever they achieve, they will improve at 100's of per cent by not staying in Reserves.

      Once upon a time Reserve Grade had experienced and mentoring type players which was great for the appropriate youngsters.

      Someone showed a RL Programme with a Parra reserve grade side in about 1980, apart from having Arthur Beetson in it, it had a side with enormous first grade experience and probably better than our current team.

      Nobody would argue that was a learning environment.......... you saw how our current reserve grade went with the dropped first grade players back there,  they are going to do nothing to develop anyone.

       

      • Poppa, I think maybe Brett was referring to next year and the changes whereby the Wenty affiliation will be gone. It will be far more like a reserve grade environment closer links to the NRL team. 19 is very young for a prop and I agree some time playing against men before playing against NRL quality front rowers is a good idea.

         

        • BA will get it right..... Sometimes Good enough is old enough, especially for a taste of first grade. There has been some real positives coming out of the coach recently - dropping players, telling them they are no longer in  his plans, calling them out as weak, as Soft, with out mental toughness. Refusing to pander to players such as French etc. Dropping Taka, Meroa äbout bloody time though". Anyway - starting to see some real positive mongrel from BA.     "And I like It"    :)

          Go You Mighty Eels

          • Agreed. BA has finally got the shits with everything and I can see him throwing in some of the younger players, most likely towards the back end of the year as he did with Mahoney and Salmon last year. At least they will be eager to and hungry for success. We'll still have some old heads like Jennings and Mau for experience.

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