Eels out to silence Arthur’s critics

Jasper Bruce |

Brad Arthur has come under fire after Parramatta’s shaky start to the 2024 NRL season.
Brad Arthur has come under fire after Parramatta’s shaky start to the 2024 NRL season.

Bryce Cartwright was “p***ed off” by external speculation about Brad Arthur’s future and says Parramatta’s players have it in their power to silence the coach’s critics once and for all.

Prior to Saturday’s defeat of North Queensland, the Eels had lost both their games since Mitch Moses went down with a fractured foot in round three as they struggled to readjust to life without their star half.

Arthur shrugged off speculation about his future following the Eels hefty round-five loss to Canberra, with Parramatta chief executive Jim Sarantinos taking the rare step of defending the long-standing coach in the media.

Internally, the criticism was hurting the players.

Bryce Cartwright.
Bryce Cartwright has thrown his support behind under-fire coach Brad Arthur. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

“To be honest, it p***ed me off a little bit,” second-rower Cartwright said.

“I know how much Brad does for the team and for everyone who’s come here and has played here.

“He’s the best coach I’ve had. I don’t want to be coached by anyone else.”

Cartwright said conjecture over Arthur’s position at the Eels had motivated him to recover quickly from a rib injury and line up against the Cowboys last week.

“I wanted to get back on the field as soon as I could,” he said.

As the Eels look to continue their winning ways against the Dolphins in Darwin on Friday, they’re also eyeing the chance to reaffirm their coach’s credentials.

“Brad’s got all our support,” Cartwright said.

“We just need to keep winning games and (then) that stuff doesn’t get spoken about.

“I know none of us would want to be coached by anyone else.”

No player better exemplifies Arthur’s abilities as a man manager than Cartwright, whose career was at a crossroads when he arrived at the Eels in 2021.

The 29-year-old had been contemplating returning to park football before Arthur transformed him into one of the NRL’s elite second-rowers last season.

He has developed a defensive grit that eluded him even in his days as an elite young talent at Penrith.

“He’s gotten extremely tough over the last couple of years,” five-eighth Dylan Brown, who is playing on Cartwright’s right edge while Moses is out, said.

“His defence has gone through the roof.”

Cartwright has long credited Arthur for his turnaround.

“(Arthur) has really looked after me ever since I got here, he’s been patient with me,” he said. 

“I’ve built a really good relationship with him and he has that with all his players.”