Eels coach Arthur won’t watch grand-final replay

Jasper Bruce |

Ahead of his side’s grand-final rematch against local rivals Penrith, Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has revealed he is yet to sit down and watch the heartbreaking 28-12 defeat.

Arthur’s Eels found themselves outplayed by the reigning premiers last October, with the eventual scoreline failing to do justice to one of the more one-sided deciders in recent history.

The Eels only crossed for their first try after Panthers coach Ivan Cleary had begun his victory march from the coach’s box to the sidelines.

But rather than stew on the defeat in the intervening months, Arthur has made a point not to examine footage of his side’s first grand-final appearance since 2009.

“I’ve seen bits and pieces of it but still haven’t sat down and watched the full 80 minutes of it,” he told reporters.

“There’s nothing we can do about it now, is there? If we work hard enough and we put ourselves in that position again, well that’s when I’ll watch it.

“It’s not something I want to keep re-living but at some stage I’ll get around to it. But it just doesn’t help us right at the minute.”

The Eels are preparing to get one over their old foes when the sides meet at CommBank Stadium on Thursday.

But Arthur said the Eels, who are winless through three rounds, should not need the prospect of grand-final revenge to get them up for the game.

“The boys would be disappointed with how it went at the end of last year and hopefully it’s in the back of their heads,” he said.

“Our motivation should be that we need to play well for ourselves, we need to play well for our families, we need to play well for our fans. 

“We should want to do that every week. If we need extra motivation we shouldn’t be here.”

The Eels welcome second-rower Ryan Matterson back for his first game of the season after he controversially took a three-match suspension over a $4,000 fine when he was charged for a hit in the grand final.

The decision has been the subject of public scrutiny and was made to look worse by the Eels’ personnel shortages – Parramatta lost Isaiah Papali’i and Marata Niukore to rival clubs in the off-season and reigning club player of the year Shaun Lane to a jaw injury.

Arthur said he was at peace with Matterson’s call despite the pressure it had put on the Eels’ depth.

“I will say the timing of it, straight after a grand final, I don’t think anyone was thinking very clearly. Maybe with a bit more time, he makes a different decision,” Arthur said.

“My job as coach is not to question players’ decisions, it’s to support them.

“At the end of the day I supported Matto’s decisions and he’s got to live and die by the consequences.”

Panthers halves combination Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary have been named to play despite suffering minor foot injuries in round two, when Penrith played their last game.

“The boys got their rest,” Panthers centre Stephen Crichton said.

“They’re looking good.”