BY CURTIS WOODWARD
“The players are obviously enjoying his coaching because they’re playing tough, genuine rugby league.” That was former Parramatta Eels General Manager Daniel Anderson speaking about Brad Arthur in 2014. How quickly things can change.
Six weeks ago the world must have felt like a beautiful place to Arthur.
Rugby league was back, Parramatta was riding high after going deep into the 2017 season and Jarryd Hayne had returned to where it all began.
Then reality set in and it hit them like a hurricane.
They’ve dropped six in a row as the Eels stumble from one loss to another. After their 18-2 defeat to the Raiders in Canberra on Saturday night, they sit dead last.
Anderson again: “..He’s a tremendous coach with strong ideals and great values for the club to build on.”
Arthur hasn’t forgotten how to coach. He hasn’t lost his ideals or his values.
His biggest mistake was trusting his roster too much. After all, they did roar into the second week of last year’s playoffs. With Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses running the show, Hayne’s return and the development of players like Clint Gutherson, Nathan Brown and Bevan French, one could only assume 2018 would be bigger and brighter for the Blue and Gold. Think again.
It is obvious some players have gone too long and it’s clear to see that certain personalities are weighing everyone else down.
Tim Mannah and Beau Scott have been loyal servants to rugby league for many years. They have played over 450 first grade games combined. Mannah has never played for any other NRL side. Scott has represented Australia and New South Wales. Unfortunately however, they look weary amid young legs.
Mannah’s partner in the front row Daniel Alvaro is also struggling. He’s getting dominated every time he runs the ball. Little hooker Kaysa Pritchard tries his hardest but that isn’t enough. Tony Williams should be playing Ron Massey Cup, Peni Terepo is plagued by errors and Kenny Edwards is too busy niggling the opposition to worry about his own game.
Then there’s the personalities.
A club can manage an ego. It’s the nature of the NRL and it’s even easier when you’re winning. The Moses/Norman combination last year is the perfect example. It’s a different story when nothing is working and you couldn’t beat a drum. The story goes Moses and Norman can’t stand each other. Moses has also been caught on the referee’s audio two weeks in a row abusing his own players.
Now add Hayne to the mix – a man that polarises opinion. At his best, he was the most dominant player in the game. At his worst, he’s a lazy highlight reel on the wrong side of 30. Parramatta know better than anyone that you can’t rely on Hayne when the chips are down.
.@TheParraEels star Corey Norman has shot down reports he's unhappy at the Eels and is entertaining a move to this weekend's opponents @RaidersCanberra. @LiamCox_TV #NRL #7News pic.twitter.com/NuXazhNsm9— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) April 11, 2018
Arthur has built a roster based on his ideals and values. That same roster has been ripped apart by players he signed.
The coach is now in an impossible position.
He must rebuild and revitalise his squad but he also can’t build it around Moses/Norman or Hayne.
His first problem however is finding some wins.
If he doesn’t, Parramatta’s squad will be someone else’s problem.