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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          • Pops, when I was promoting and pushing for Twal you were not really interested in him, and thought he was a plodder.

            Stefano is not on an NRL contract to my understanding rather a development one which allows him to play after June 30.  I have my views which may or may not be right or wrong, with Oregon back with Wenty he and Stefano are playing together, I believe that is a plan to get them NRL ready and likely both on the bench for whoever becomes the primary run on props.

            If his dad is the way he is, then nothing can be done about him and maybe Stefano has more sense and going his direction without any problems, its likely a case of dad being over ready for son to be big time RL player and support home but son believes he has time.  I also therefore have little doubt that he, that is Stefano will be signing contract to stay at the eels, along with Faingaa.

            Re Parry and Dunster, both of them are also development players and why we haven't seen them in the NRL side, following their stints in the trial matches.

            • I understand and appreciate what you say Colin and I am fully aware of the development contracts, Christ they have been mentioned enough.

              I am not sure if you realise what is happening at other clubs and how they are being placed. Stephan is no different than David Fifita and Paas from the Bronco's, both have debuted in Origin.....Yes origin, not just NRL. 

              If Brad Arthur had Fifita and Paas in his care.....do you think he would have played them in NRL at this point or even had them in the top 30.

              If you can answer this positively then we do not have a discussion with regard to where this blog has gone.'

              I use Twal as an example and he was a player with potential who I was less worried about losing given the circumstances. The reality is he did not play a first grade game with Parra and went mid season to Wests where he played NRL almost immediately and has progressed to a very satisfactory stage in his development. He is notwithstanding no super star and does not compare to say Fifita or Paas, but again was held up in progression to NRL by BA.

              Oregan Kaufusi has been blooded in NRL and badly handled by BA in that process, why is he not playing First Grade now instead of Kane Evans who gets 20/30 minutes max in a game.

              Stephano Utoikamanu is at a level or was with Fifita and Paas, frankly we cannot afford to lose him and he needs to be managed with vision......I do not believe that BA has been blessed with vision and the means of developing young players to any satisfaction at this stage of his coaching career.

              I have supported BA and I like the man, I love the fact that he bleeds blue and Gold, but I cannot ignore all the logical arguments about having done his time and move on.

              • Pops, have no arguement with what you have said, I have no real idea as to why we have not blooded the younger players, my only thought is that the 30 man squad is full and those young players are outside that listing, so far still on the eels team page there are 36players, that is a number including NRL and Development players. With Kaysa still listed but no mug shot, meaning 35. with Tim going we are down to 34, that brings the 4 development players in, and maybe two more replacements keeping the the 36 required, if I understand the system correctly.

                As for Oregon I believe he should be there in place of Evens, why is he stil at wenty? I don't know the only reason I can think of is that it allows he and Stefano to develop a working relationship readying them both for the NRL.  Other than that, my only answer is that he is looking at culling players especially those not performing and this weeks match and future of likely Evens is under pressure and hopefully last chance, the only other change I would see is with Gower, at least Gower will give his all, but both are likely to be out to allow both Oregon pre June 30 and hopefully Stefano into the grade post June 30.

                I would suggest DBrown may return after the bye also which hopefully agains is a show towards the future.

                Regarding using Fifita and Paasl its a retorical question really as the answer cannot be one that could be answered. I certainly agree that BA has in most respects been slow to bring in new/younger players but he has done so to an extent, but has certainly been more loyal to the older ones. Little doubt in my mind still and in many ways reinforced by the players in Wenty this weekend that things have finally on the change list.

                I cannot see, and hope I don't see Alvaro, Terepo at the club next year, a bit of a concern to me though is there are reports saying that Waga Black is more than likely to be at the eels next year and perhaps this year, in that case where does Parry, Dunster and Salmon fit? especially with DB returning.

                • Colin, Dylan Brown is one example of why young players should be allowed to mature. His body was not up to the rigours of 1st grade football. I dont think that he should be chosen this year. We should not risk of his health in order to win a football game. Many promissing careers have been ruined by bringing them on  too early.We shoud sign them to contracts to stop other clubs from poaching them.

  • how long is he contracted for?

    • None of the three young forwards mentioned are shown in the off contract list of players on zero tackle listings, Kafusi is locked in for next year, Stefano for this year only and nothing on Faingaa, jut a ?

  • I say give him a taste of FG - throw him a couple of games and see how he performs. 

    Him and Kaufusi really are our next generation so we really need to make sure we nurture them. Although our track record of late hasnt been the best in developing our junior talents. 

  • Good read mate, been wondering what’s happening with this kid. Hopefully he gets a debut end of year

  • Ye thats great we have juniors coming through but we need to blood them with top end props in front of them. We need to sign mat lodge and utoikamanu can take his time and less pressure on him when he makes his debut will be great for his development 

  • Great read! One tackle break per run and over ten metres per carry. Poppa if he's on par with fifita and hass he should be given a run after June 30 along with parry. 

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