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Eels in the media

Twizzle

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How Aiton helped Albert fulfil NRLW dream and her plan to develop PNG talent​

AuthorBrad WalterNRL.com Senior ReporterTimestampSat 15 Jan 2022, 12:19 PM

Eels hooker Therese Aiton isn’t just a trailblazer for Papua New Guinea players; she has established a pathway for more women from the Pacific nation to play in the NRLW.
Aiton, who is only the third Orchids international to earn an NRLW contract after Amelia Kuk and Elsie Albert, has created a scholarship program to help promising PNG players further their careers in Australia.

Albert, the Orchids captain and St George Illawarra prop, was the first beneficiary after Aiton organised for her to come to Brisbane in 2020 to play for Souths Logan Magpies.
Elsie Albert is the first PNG player to benefit from a scholarship created by Therese Aiton
Elsie Albert is the first PNG player to benefit from a scholarship created by Therese Aiton©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos
The 32-year-old, whose brother Paul played more than 100 NRL matches for Penrith and Cronulla and represented the Kumuls in 16 Tests, accommodated Albert at her house in Brisbane until she earned an NRLW contract with the Dragons.
Albert again received help from Aiton, through the Hezekiah Sports Scholarship Foundation she founded, to return for the 2021 NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership, which kicks off on February 27 after being postponed due to COVID.
This time, Aiton will be lining up against Albert after being signed by Parramatta and the Orchids star is working to ensure that there are more PNG players in the NRLW in future years.
“Ideally, we wanted to bring more players here now but the whole visa process and the funding for that was huge,” Aiton said.
“A friend of mine runs a charity, His Harvest, so we just branched off that with the Hezekiah Sports Scholarship Foundation and through that, with whatever funding comes through, we can support more players to come over here.
“I’ve put up my house for accommodation for them. This year I have offered to take five or six girls in my own home and get them to training.
“We just need funding to support us with visas and flights to get them over here and whatever food they require when they are here, but we are happy to take them to training and accommodate them.
“We were able to get Elsie here for the first year with Souths Logan Magpies, which was great, and to support her to come over again this year with the scholarship I created, so hopefully we can bring more players over because there is just so much talent in PNG.”

 

Gronk

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Hodgson may be decrepit but it’s also lucky we didn’t go down the Jrailey route for replacing Mahoney
I posted it because

The club was said to be open to releasing the 32-year-old immediately after informing him they weren’t in a position to offer him a new deal. Hodgson has since signed a two-year deal with the Eels for 2023. But if the Raiders were willing to let him go early back in October, it could end up being a masterstroke by the Knights if they added Hodgson — an English international, former Raiders captain and 137-gamer — to their inexperienced spine.
 

Gronk

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MANAGEABLE...

EELS

Halves:
Mitch Moses, Dylan Brown, Jake Arthur

Hooker: Reed Mahoney, Mitch Rein

Prop: Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Junior Paulo, Makahesi Makatoa, Oregon Kaufusi, Wiremu Greig, David Hollis

Second row: Isaiah Papali’i (also prop), Bryce Cartwright, Marata Niukore, Ryan Matterson, Shaun Lane

Lock: Nathan Brown, Ray Stone (also hooker)

Fullback: Clint Gutherson, Hayze Perham (also halves), Sean Russell (also wing)

Centre: Tom Opacic, Waqa Blake, Will Penisini, Solomone Naiduki

Wing: Maika Sivo, Haze Dunster, Bailey Simonsson (or fullback)

The Eels learnt a valuable lesson about depth when star hooker Reed Mahoney re-injured his shoulder in Round 21 and was ruled out for the remainder of last season.

A bout of bad luck did hurt the side with replacement Joey Lussick also getting injured in the final rounds and joining fellow back-up hooker Nathaniel Roache on the sidelines. Ultimately Ray Stone, a lock, had to slot in at nine in the Eels’ two most important games of the season and was caught out in the final moments of their semi-final loss when he threw a wayward pass from dummy-half.
Lussick has gone back to the Super League and Roache is taking a year off to recover from a knee reconstruction so the Eels went about finding another specialist hooker to add to their squad. They pounced on veteran rake Mitch Rein, who brings 208 NRL games worth of experience. Beyond that they also have former Panther Brendan Hands training with the NRL squad during pre-season.
Up front, Parramatta are pretty stacked. They’ve lost hardman Keegan Hipgrave to retirement but Makahesi Makatoa has earned himself a Top 30 contract after impressing on a train-and-trial deal late last year.
Meanwhile, the emergence of Isaiah Papali’i last season will once again give Arthur the good kind of selection head ache when he has the likes of Ryan Matterson, Shaun Lane and Marata Niukore also vying for a spot in the second row.
The club has lost utility Will Smith who despite not nailing down a spot in the 17 every week, was an incredibly valuable player. The 29-year-old provided cover in the halves, at fullback and at hooker.
Jordan Rankin is also no longer a part of the Top 30, which really leaves just Jake Arthur as a back-up, unless Arthur turns to Hayze Perham or Bryce Cartwright. With one spot left in the Top 30, a back-up half with a few more years of experience than Jake Arthur could be the best move to ensure the Eels truly are bulletproof.
Two-game rookie Sean Russell got a taste of the NRL last season on the wing but has played most of his junior footy at fullback. He’s an option for coach Brad Arthur if skipper Clint Gutherson is unavailable, or new recruit Bailey Simonssonbrings with him a bit of fullback experience too — although he’s expected to nail down a spot in the outside backs.
The Eels have an outside back and a fullback on development contracts but even when they’re free to be selected from Round 11 onwards, it’s unlikely Arthur will rush them in.
 

King-Gutho94

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Lol. We also had two other injured hookers. Do we need to carry 4 or 5 in our squad? Lol ffs

Yeah they were the only 3 players injured from memory all dummy halves.

We have actually been unlucky to only have the same position of players injured come finals last few seasons.

2017 - Only 2 players injured were Gutherson and French both fullbacks so had to play Will Smith and gee wasnt that unfortunate week 2 against the cowboys. Slips over at crucial moment.

2020 - Lost our entire backline in the space of 7 days outside of Waqa Blake between week 1 and week 2.
 

Gronk

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Yeah I know it must be hard being a journo, because you can't know the intimate details of every squad in every club. However you put your own head on the chopping block when you decide to critique 16 depth charts.
 

84 Baby

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Yeah I know it must be hard being a journo, because you can't know the intimate details of every squad in every club. However you put your own head on the chopping block when you decide to critique 16 depth charts.
Here’s a tip - they don’t give a shit.
In fact angering most fans is probably seen as an applaudable thing by their bosses.
 

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