The Dyldam Parramatta Eels Holden Cup side currently sit third on the NYC Holden Cup Ladder heading into Round 16, with 10 wins from 14 games (and a bye), and Head Coach Luke Burt says it is pleasing to see the rewards for a hard pre-season.
For first time Head Coach Luke Burt who was pleased to see the success of the side on the field, the most pleasing aspect is the progression and development of some of the young talents coming through the ranks at the Blue and Gold.
“I am very pleased. They have trained very hard in the pre-season and they have got some rewards now,” Burt said reflecting on the start to the season.
“The most pleasing thing is that we have seen a few boys go up and play reserve grade which is the 20’s job, to progress kids along and get them improving and make sure they can get up to the next grade.”
“I knew in the pre-season what they had in them and they have been outstanding bunch of boys. I can’t fault them.” Burt added.
“They have done whatever we have asked of them and they are a good bunch of boys that keep turning up and doing it. It is just a matter for them to keep doing it for the rest of the year.”
However Burt is not looking too far ahead.
Finals football is not on the coach’s mind, rather ensuring his side is ready week to week in case a player is selected to play in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW Wentworthville Magpies or Eels NRL side.
“I honestly haven’t looked too far ahead, and I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but I haven’t,” Burt said.
“We will keep training hard, hopefully the boys keep improving and I would love more and more boys to play reserve grade and maybe do a Bevan French and get a shot at first grade.”
“It is just a matter of going week to week, we have a couple of boys coming up from SG Ball that are knocking on the door as well so it is a real exciting time of the year.”
With players like Bevan French and Alex Twal, both still eligible to play in the Holden Cup side, along with representative players Tyrell Fuimaono and Tom Amone having a taste of ISP football, Burt says it has made his job as a coach far easier when they return to the NYC squad, noting the development in these young players.
“I think the development is the main part for a 20’s coach,” Burt said.
“When they come back to us, they are very confident, especially those blokes who played rep games.”
“They came back and stood up very well. You now see Alex Twal as a permanent fixture in the Cup team so it is brilliant to see and something to be proud of, seeing those boys go up and do what they are doing.”
To add further competition to his already strong and competitive NYC squad, several players from the 2016 Eels SG Ball side (coached by Nathan Cayless) have been included in the NYC training and squad since the completion of their season.
“The SG Ball side are full training and have trained with us for the last month,” Burt said.
“One of the boys (Tui Afualo) got a run with us last week and actually got Players’ player so he did a great job for us, and there’s a few boys that have been 18th man for us so they are knocking on the door and not too far off getting a run as well.”
“Our boys were very accepting of the 18 year old boys and they were lucky enough in SG Ball to have a coach like Nathan Cayless to train and coach them all season, so they were ready for it when they got up,” Burt added about the transition mid way through the season.
“Nathan trained them pretty hard so when they came up they were ready for it and it’s just a matter for them to do that and maybe go back to Guildford and playing a few games there and prove they are ready for a shot at the NYC side.”
A whilst only mid-way through the season, the first time Head Coach has loved every bit of the year thus far.
“I absolutely love it. It is something at the start of the year I probably wasn’t 100% sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I have really enjoyed that side of developing players.” Burt said.
“The 20s boys have been a great bunch and it’s been a great debut year and a bunch of boys to go along with.”
The Eels Holden Cup side have a bye in Round 16 before taking on the Cronulla Sharks on Saturday 2 July.