2016 finish: Ninth
The coach says: “Each NSW Cup team can have a different side every week so the main thing is making sure our effort’s not compromised with all the little things we do week in, week out,” Nathan Cayless insists. “Things are going to happen on the field, things are going to go wrong, errors are going to happen, but one thing you can’t let happen is a lack of effort or a lack of intensity – that’s something the coaching staff and players can control. It’s a bit of a standard that the Eels guys at NRL level have set and we’ll try and make sure that filters all the way down.” The final make-up of the side will be interesting because there’s real competition for the key playmaking roles. Dylan Izzard and Cameron King were fantastic for the Magpies at the back end of 2016 but they’ll have to beat out NRL veteran Jeff Robson and Burleigh Bears star Jamal Fogarty.
Player to watch: When Brad Arthur analyses the pre-season he’s sure to talk about classy fullback Honeti Tuha ( above), whose commitment to training only adds to his growing reputation as a potential NRL custodian after a breakout season for Wenty last year. “Honeti’s been a real standout in the pre-season for the NRL squad,” Cayless says. “He’s had a wonderful preseason, just some of the stuff we’ve seen him do, and speaking with some of the NRL coaches as well, they’re really impressed with how he’s been training. His real strength is off-the-cuff footy. He’ll see an opportunity and look to capitalise on it every time. He’ll sniff out an opportunity and make something happen.”
KEY GAINS: Jeff Robson, Jamal Fogarty, George Jennings
KEY LOSSES: Ryan Morgan, Kieren Moss