The Cumberland Throw

The Spotlight – Negotiations With Arthur Set For June

News that the Eels will hold off contract negotiations with Brad Arthur until June has put an end to recent speculation that a coaching decision was coming within six weeks.

When speculation of a first quarter review of the season and Arthur’s tenure started to gain traction amongst supporters, I personally found the rumours to be puzzling.

It was a timeline that would have placed Eels coaching dramas on the sporting front pages in the very week that the club was staging its inaugural match at the new BankWest Stadium. It made zero sense.

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Even more concerning, any discussion around the coach’s future so early in the season would only serve to destabilise the building blocks of the 2019 campaign. The repercussions would effectively consign another season to the scrap heap and make a mockery of the staffing and structural changes which resulted from the 2018 review.

Arthur doing his thing at Saleyards

The discussions around the disasters of 2018 have been numerous and are now consigned to history. I regarded last season as an anomaly, but one which provided invaluable lessons for Arthur and the club.

The Eels had previously been on an upward trajectory under BA’s coaching, even overcoming the 2016 salary cap scandal roadblock. Not too many coaches have been subjected to the penalties imposed on the Eels during that season. A collapse in 2016 and 2017 would not have surprised but the opposite transpired.

Disappointingly, the 2018 performances bore no similarity to the teams of the previous two seasons. But they did push the structure of the football department into the spotlight, and highlight the need for a better resourced operation.

Moving into 2019, the staffing changes and restructures resulting from 2018 need time to take effect. They don’t need the disruptions that follow any change in coach and the resultant loss of support staff.

Stability is paramount for the Eels, especially at a time when Arthur’s investment in youth is just coming to the fore.

Since our inception, The Cumberland Throw has consistently reported that a talented group of juniors was progressing through the Harold Matthews, SG Ball and Flegg teams. It has required an element of patience from supporters, especially if those supporters had never seen these youngsters in action. But the evidence is now there in the composition of the full time squad.

This progression has taken time. The right youngsters had to be identified by people such as Anthony Field. Quality coaching was needed. The JETS program was implemented by Joey Grima (now the Eels Elite Pathways Coaching Director). The NRL staff mentored elite players at Old Saleyards.

It’s been a five year process. The goal – a greater percentage of Parramatta developed NRL players within the Eels Top 30. The club has confirmed the philosophy by identifying itself as a “Development Club”.

The Cumberland Throw has been an unapologetic supporter of Brad Arthur because our writers have witnessed his investment in development first hand. BA has been instrumental in driving change in how the club develops players. Along with Bernie Gurr and other NRL staff, Arthur can be seen at virtually every junior and lower grade match that doesn’t clash with first grade. The Development Club philosophy is evident.

Make no mistake. This is a crucial year for the Parramatta Eels.

Dylan Brown is part of the youth focus at the club

Young players such as Mahoney, Salmon, Niukore, Stone and Kaufusi debuted last season. Brown and Sivo – a recruit identified and targetted by Grima and Arthur – have kicked off the 2019 debuts. The changing of the guard is in progress. The next 24 months will shape the future of the Eels.

This last pre-season has been unlike any I’ve witnessed before. The intensity of the sessions and the resolve of the players was inspiring to watch.

Round one needed to produce a victory. Others may say that evidence of a new attitude was enough. I reckon that after last year, we could not risk that monkey on the back becoming a gorilla. The win loosened his grip. That performance must now be backed up on a weekly basis, and I’m confident that it will be.

I welcome Bernie Gurr’s announcement of a more reasonable time frame, but remain staunch in my opinion that Arthur is the right man to take the club forward.

By the middle of this season we will hopefully have this confirmed.

Eels forever!

Sixties

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Milo
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Milo

Well put together Sixties. spot on again. He deserves the time to show he is the best coach to take this squad and juniors forward. I believe he is. We just need our fare share of luck with injuries.

Shaun
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Shaun

Yes, I agree. 2018 was not indicative of BA’s ability (not many coaches have had to deal with what he has since joining Parra). As you noted, lessons have been learned (especially about club culture) and so far, so good. I’m quietly confident 2019 will be a positive season for the Eels.

Big Derek
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Big Derek

The more I think about coaching and the impact another change would bring, even the BA critics should see that what is needed is stability. One of the major problems in 2018 was a very poor playing style, whether that was due to the players or the coaching staff, it needed to be front and centre of any review or change. Potter , Kidwell and others have started this process and with the younger players staking a claim, it sort of feels foolish to just dump BA as the building blocks of juniors he Started are now coming got through.… Read more »

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Sixties, totally agree. I posted over on the other site a reply to a blog set up by Poppa with the following as the last line Limiting a coaches time at a club, not sure it would really benefit overall. Our current coach would still have his critics amongst certain people if at the end of the time frame announced by the club we were leading the competition, they would want him sacked. How long did it take the likes of Bennett, Bellamy and others to get their teams to where they were constant winners? I also mentioned the Knights… Read more »

Jim
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Jim

I have been a big supporter of BA from the moment he arrived. Not that I knew much about him but I was drawn to his families connection to the Eels. Who better to understand what the Eels fans have been going through than a life long Eels fan. I will never forget the way he stood up in 2016 and would love to see him succeed & stay in charge for years to come like Bellamy at the Storm. We were a club in trouble when he arrived & after a lot of hard work it looks like we… Read more »

Jetta
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Jetta

Aren’t you concerned that leaving the decision late will hinder our recruitment and retention efforts? No one will want to sign a contract if they don’t know who the coach will be moving forward. It’s such an important decision, and the club will need time to move in a new direction if BA is not offered a new deal.

Milo
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Milo

Jetta as you said its a very important decision and one that they cannot make in the first 6 matches or so (IMO anyway). I think they have made a mature call, and would obviously have thoughts and ideas in motion before that time anyway. The good thing about the board etc. is that we do not seem to have the ‘old type’ of leaks that occurred previously.

Jeff Cooke
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Jeff Cooke

100% Sixties. Nicely done. BA will survive and thrive.

JonBoy
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JonBoy

Well put Sixties… With so many players coming off contract this year the club really is walking a double edged sword here. Procrastinate too long and we might lose players. Procrastinate too long and any options beyond BA may not be an option anymore. But seriously, how many other genuine options are there in terms of coaches being available for 2020? The big signings of Ivan Cleary, Michael Maguire, Wayne Bennett, Anthony Seibold are done. Apart from an existing NRL coach being thrown out of their current job as a result of poor performance this year, is there actually anyone… Read more »

John Eel
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John Eel

I cant help but feel that this announcement by the Eels following the good win against Penrith has been good for BA.

I have seen a lot of love for BA since the announcement of the June deadline for a decision on his future. Time will tell I guess but I wish him well and feel he is a better than an even chance to get an extension.

Terry
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Terry

Can I just say there was no reason for this story on nrl.com to be public after a great win. Bernie should of kept this private. To me this seems like the club will go a new direction for next season and that won’t include Brad.
It’s disappointing this couldn’t be between Brad and the club.

Jonboy
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Jonboy

A valid point Terry and on one hand I agree. On the other hand I suspect it is more of a deflection of the constant questions on the topic. Unfortunately I think the way the media work now it’ll just add to the fire with any loss or hiccup.

John K
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John K

A great read as usual and I for one am a supporter of B A. This is definitely the right direction Parra. Thanks for all the hard work Parra and sixties.

BDon
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BDon

All I know is that out in the world of business and commerce, board and management decisions to do with strategy, direction, people and governance that turn the business into a train wreck take years to clean up. The larger the business the more complex the task becomes. In the sport market, the Eels are a large business. Brad Arthur wandered into an absolute train wreck, then had to watch the old adage take place..’you have to hit rock bottom before before you begin to rise again’. In these circumstances, I have difficulty in considering all the micro events that… Read more »