Arthur’s ‘part-time footy team’ barb stokes Eels’ fire

George Clarke |

Junior Paulo (centre) says the coach was right to call out the Eels after losing to the Dolphins.
Junior Paulo (centre) says the coach was right to call out the Eels after losing to the Dolphins.

Parramatta’s senior players have conceded Brad Arthur was right to label the Eels “a part-time footy team”, arguing it is their squad – not the club’s coach – who should be under fire. 

The Eels leadership group of captain Clint Gutherson and props Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard fronted up to the media on Tuesday following Friday’s insipid 44-16 loss in Darwin.

As well as describing his side as a “part-time footy team”, Arthur claimed Parramatta’s players “gave up” and took the “soft choice” after throwing away an 8-4 halftime lead against the Dolphins. 

Eels coach Brad Arthur
Eels coach Brad Arthur was not impressed by his side’s effort in their loss to the Dolphins. (Jenny Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

Rather than hiding from their hammering, which has prompted fresh questions over Arthur’s long-term future, Gutherson, Campbell-Gillard and Paulo said their coach was right to put them on notice. 

“Watching the game on the weekend he is absolutely correct,” Paulo said.

“We can’t just pick and choose when we want to be the tough Parramatta team that we are.”

Arthur has rung the changes in the aftermath of the Darwin disaster, picking rookie Ethan Sanders at five-eighth, recalling Maika Sivo and shaking up his bench. 

Campbell-Gillard agreed with Paulo and said the stinging criticism from Arthur, who usually stands up for his players, was a “massive wake-up call”. 

“If you watched the second half, it looked like we didn’t know each other and we hadn’t trained together,” Campbell-Gillard said.

Reagan Campbell-Gillard
Reagan Campbell-Gillard says the stinging criticism from the coach was a “massive wake-up call”. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

“It was a little embarrassing to see the 40 minutes in that second half. We’ve addressed it and we’re looking forward to this week.”

Gutherson sat next to Arthur as he gave his side a very public rebuke at his post-match press conference on Friday and said it was what the Eels players needed.

“You never want to hear that from your coach, but the truth hurts sometimes and you’ve got to hear it,” Gutherson said. 

After missing last year’s finals series, Parramatta’s erratic 3-4 start has again brought Arthur’s position under the microscope.

But Campbell-Gillard says the coach is not culpable for the Eels’ shaky form. 

“Brad has copped it for 12 or 13 years, it’s not his fault, the onus is on us,” he said. 

“Being one of the senior players here, I’m more than happy to cop the brunt of it.

“I’m sure our other senior boys are willing to put their hand up as well.

“It’s not nice to see what’s happened to Brad given what he’s done for this club. 

“He’ll always put his hand up and face the media and take the brunt of it, but for the performances we’ve been dishing out, we have to (take responsibility).”