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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        • Kafusi, made his debut last year, at 19, turns 20 in August this year.  Stefano is still 19, Faingaa is now 20, both Stefano and Faingaa are old enough to be able to play NRL, just as Kafusi was last year, and a multitude of players at other clubs are also playing NRL at the same ages.

          Each of the three need to be given time in the lower grades yes! but they also need to be given the chance in the top side as well, we know how Oregon has gone and still worthy to play NRL, the other two need the same chances, off the bench, along with the hopeful resigning of them. Stefano at 19 & 115Kgs has the body to make impact and what is needed for the future, would love to see him in place of Evens.

          • The biggest issue for me with younger guys is consistency.

            To me the NRL is a grind there are no weeks off and this is where young guys struggle physically and mentally.It catches up with them and here in is what we are seeing with Mahoney right now.His performances are so up n down.

            These guys to have a chance at least have to be physically mature and there bodies especially at prop can handle the week to week car crashes there bodies will be put through.

            Me personally for the most part most 19-21 yr olds will fail.There will always be exceptions to the rule but for the most part % wise most fail and there bodies aren’t up to it.

            • These players need to be eased into the NRL squad with their playing times. Alternating them with two on the bench and the other off it during the 2nd half of this year can help them in a big way, makes them conditioned and hardened in a gradual way.  It will need to be monitored by the club including the coaching, training and medical staff.

              Give each of them are pretty much props or the size to be so, they will be encouragements also in their own learning yes! but also for the other young and inexperienced players such as DBrown, and to a slightly less extent with Mahoney. But I am hopeful of seeing Stone used off the bench to relieve Mahoney in the d/h & utillity role.

              • 100% agree.

                Its the stupidity of the clowns running the game using the 20s as a feeder.When in all essence the reserve grade comp should always been that.A good way for these kids to learn off guys who may not be good enough to play NRL but no the tricks of the trade that needs to be passed on to there young up in comers.

                • Coryn part of the overall problem as I see it is the simple fact of how few grades there are in the way of RL teams these days. Outside of a single NRL squad/team, there is the first drop on the rung to the Canterbury cup, then Flegg, then Ron Massey cup. If you go to the NSWRL site and this link Click on the expand, v next to the Canterbury cup box and it reveals the comps that are under the run of the NSWRL, click on all teams and you find 12 teams that play, Canterbury cup, go back to the other side and open it, and then teams again, we find 14 teams for Flegg & 10 for Massey cup.

                  Compared to some years back, and not that many really, the now called Canterbury cup was 2nd division, the main games had 3 teams, as well as other comps running as well.  How many potential RL players are now running around playing Soccer, rah rah or arial ping pong? Simply put there is not the talent around owing to there being basically no real competitions either.  RL is dying in the bush, even the strong towns no longer play the game, rural cities that had 2 or more teams & a local comp have one, and the old group system is almost dead as well, with so many clubs no longer in existance.

                  Next year the eels will have their own team in the ? canterbury cup/2nd division, I see that as a positve, thing is how will that affect Wenty as to whether they can have a team that would be competetive in the comp without the eels players like now? The other dumbness is the seperation of the comps, where the eels will play this weeked on Saturday night at Bankwest, Wenty will play Warriors at 0845 in Auckland,   Eels and Warriors in Flegg at McCredie Park Guildford at 300pm, Eels will play Cabramatta at Ringrose Park on Sunday at 300pm.

                  What a great shambles, we have basically 4 teams each playing on different days at different venues.

                  Essentially the Canterbury cup should be the feeder club but so is the Flegg but with younger players, and its a big jump really.  There should be at least two games played on the same day and venue so that supporters can travel and watch the two levels, and where possible have 3 matches on same ground on same day, where possible and practical owing to weather conditions, it may be harder though with Thursday night games and to a lesser extent Friday night ones.

                  Its about creating atmosphere for each grade for coaches and clubs to be able to watch and see how each grade is performing, if we are to be a development club like Gurr is trying to do for the eels, these are areas that need to be pushed by the clubs.

                  2019 Draw And Results
                  Fixture details and results for the 2019 Canterbury Cup NSW and Holden State of Origin series.
        • Exactly, there is tremendous benefit in him spending a solid season in NSW Cup. That said, I fully expect to see him in the NRL at some point this season 

        • Brissy, yes it will be better next year in theory and that will be fine/better for the normal evolution of most players.

          We have in Stephano but, something we have not had for a long time, his peer group comparison I explained in my post, this young bloke is known by everyone and if he is treated patiently, maybe the right thing to do....... we will lose him! his father is a bit of a hot head I understand. This boy is the Dylan Brown of our forward pack.

          Now in saying this I am not in a position to judge his mental capacity,maturity and any specifics of his physical capacity.......lets say/ assume all that is addressed to satisfaction......then play him! 

          We need him as much as he needs to play NRL.....whether he does with us or not is a perogative I would like to take that out of the equation.

          When we lost terry matterson he had a terrible attitude because he thought he was left behind in the development process as well. I agreed with the decision when he left because his attitude was bad, but he is another example of ability not detected and developed to anyone's mutual satisfaction.

          I have seen nothing in BA's attitude that convinces me he knows how to bring youngsters through. Oregan Kaufusi being the most recent example and Ethan Parry being wasted in reserves when he was ready for NRL after the early trials......makes no sense when Andrew Davey was in the 30 and Kaysa has been left in it so long.

          We also lost Twal because we were slow to move and I accept in his case he was a double victom of the cap scandal.

          PS as an aside the way the Cowboys developed Ponga was slow and methodical and in the boys interest......didn't mean a thing when Newcastle made him an offer to good to refuse based on his potental!

          PS 2, we couldn't get Semi right based on paying him overs at say 600k when we would have kept wouldn't get him for double now......judgement and values are lost on many people as is talent identification.

          No one always gets it right but shit you can pay for it when you get it wrong.

          • I've always said if you're good enough you're old enough, but geez 19 or 20 for a prop in the NRL is a big ask, week in week out. Sure, blood him and give him some game time off the bench, let him see how much faster and aggressive it is. Let him go back to NSW Cup and work on things he'll no doubt learn he needs to improve on, give him another stint. In affect, keep dangling the carrot.

            PS - I think the Cows were mad in keeping JT for a year or 2 too long and losing Ponga, short term pain for long term gain. They should have tapped JT on the back, offered him a coaching gig and handled it far better

            PS2 - Semi left because of the media attention over the false accusations of his missus. No amount of money was going to change that.

            PS4 - got my son one for Xmas. He loves it - sorry, had to throw that in there....

            • I can get him a PS 3 as an interim measure if you like.....throw in a X_box for you as well and maybe something special for the missus. lol

              PS2 is subjective but we could have got him with the right deal IMO.

              Plenty here, one specifically said he wasn't worth it and I think he calls it as "he is always right" and everyone other than his own opinion is shit! Funny he doesn't write a blog when he is wrong!


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