Brad Arthur ‘ideal’ choice for Perth team: Eels players

Jasper Bruce |

Parramatta players have backed former coach Brad Arthur as the right man to build the NRL’s mooted Perth team from the ground up.

Rugby league powerbrokers are pressing ahead with plans to build towards a 20-team competition, with an 18th franchise likely from as soon as 2027.

Bids from Perth, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand are all options for the NRL’s next licences, with the Western Australia-based bid the firm favourites to come first. 

Solid grassroots participation numbers, a low concentration of professional sporting teams and a recently refurbished stadium are selling points for Perth.

Perth representatives are in Sydney this week to meet with both the North Sydney Bears and Newtown Jets as possible partners in the franchise.

But coaching is also a top priority.

AAP has been told that Arthur’s management reached out to the Perth bid team last week, prompting a meeting between them and the former Eels coach.

Now a free agent after being axed in May, Arthur took charge of the Eels when they were at their lowest ebb in 2014 following two straight wooden spoons.

He made Parramatta regular semi-finalists on his watch, culminating in a 2022 grand final appearance.

The most-capped Parramatta coach in history also has links to a Perth side, given his wife was born in the city and still has family in Western Australia.

Arthur’s former charges believe his man-management skills and successful rebuild of the Parramatta club make him a strong choice for the potential Perth team.

“I feel like he’s got a no-dickhead policy,” said five-eighth Dylan Brown.

“He knows how to pick the soft from the tough, and he likes to weed them out pretty quickly. 

“Some people agree with it and some people don’t, but I feel like that’s what makes him good.

“When I first came in there were a lot of things I’d tiptoe around, but he’d kick me in the butt and say, ‘This is rugby league and you’ve got to be tough’. That’s always been him.

“I feel like that’ll be good for a club.”

Second-rower Bryce Cartwright was one of Arthur’s great projects at the Eels, hoisting him back from reserve grade to career-best form over the past two seasons.

Cartwright said Arthur’s core values were perfect for a fledgling team.

“The things he instils, he’s a really hard-working coach,” Cartwright said.

“I think he spent 23 hours a day here at this place. For a place that needs to get started up, I think he’d be the ideal type of person. He would leave no stone unturned. He’d give it his all.

“He did so much for me. It won’t be long before he’s got another job. I’m excited to see him back in the NRL coaching.”