Arthur set for new contract but Moses talks rage on

Jasper Bruce |

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur does not believe his imminent one-year contract extension will weigh into Mitchell Moses’ decision-making as the halfback considers his own future at the Eels.

Arthur is poised to remain Parramatta’s head coach through to 2025 by triggering a performance-based clause in his contract after the side reached last year’s grand final.

The new contract extension would take Arthur into his 12th season as coach, an Eels club record.

“My manager has been talking to the club,” Arthur said.

“Hopefully there’s not much to change, it’s just triggering my third year that had a few performance things in it.

“If I can (stay), that’d be great. I didn’t think I’d be here this long. Every year you’re thinking can you continue to keep coaching?

“I love it, I want to be a career coach.”

As Arthur prepares to put pen to paper, Moses remains in protracted negotiations and has been linked with a move to either Canterbury or the Wests Tigers.

The halfback’s lucrative deal does not run out until the end of 2024 but he has been able to negotiate with rivals since November 1, thanks to a clause in his contract.

The remainder of Parramatta’s key players are tied to long-term contracts and Arthur intimated Moses was far enough through his own negotiations that a coaching contract extension was unlikely to factor in.

“I know Mitchy’s still (negotiating) at the moment but he’s still contracted for next year,” he said.

“Everything I’ve seen from Mitch is that he wants to remain at the club.

“The majority of the boys are still here for next year and the years after.”

As the Eels’ back-row stocks thin out on a tough stretch of games, Arthur conceded Nathan Brown’s release on Tuesday was “not ideal” timing for the club.

Brown will join the Sydney Roosters seven months after the Eels told the former State of Origin lock he was not part of their 2024 plans, and gave him permission to negotiate with rivals.

Brown had been contracted at the Eels through to the end of 2023 but fell out of favour towards the end of last season, managing only three appearances after round 12. 

The 30-year-old spent the first two weeks of the season on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, joining fellow back-rowers Ryan Matterson (suspension) and Shaun Lane (jaw injury) as unavailable for selection. He has since recovered.

The Eels also lost back-row options Isaiah Papali’i, Ray Stone and Marata Niukore in the off-season and are currently playing Bryce Cartwright, Matt Doorey and J’maine Hopgood in the back row. 

The latter trio played only 14 first-grade games between them last year and Arthur said in a perfect world the Eels would have kept Brown around a little longer for depth. 

“(The release) is probably not ideal for us at the moment right at the minute but if we don’t have anything for him moving forward, we’ve also got to look after him as a person,” Arthur said.

“(Brown) had an opportunity to get a longer term deal and look after his future. We’ve got Matto and J’maine playing in that same position at the moment.”

After dropping their first two fixtures, the Eels have a tough run of games with Manly, Penrith and the Roosters to come.

Matterson returns from suspension next week but Lane, the Eels’ reigning player of the year, is not due back until round six.