BA stays calm after stars exit

‘The club is in a better place than ever’: Arthur stays calm despite stars’ exits

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By Adam Pengilly
November 27, 2021 — 4.00pm
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A defiant Brad Arthur says he is not panicking about Reed Mahoney heading a flurry of high-profile players defecting to rival clubs, insisting the Eels were faced with the “impossible” task of keeping their entire NRL squad.

Just days after gun hooker Mahoney accepted a four-year deal to join the Bulldogs from 2023, a candid Parramatta coach has reassured Eels fans the club will develop another batch of young stars to remain a premiership force.

The Mahoney blow comes hot on the heels of back-rowers Isaiah Papali’i (Tigers) and Marata Niukore (Warriors) confirming they will leave the Eels at the end of 2022. The trio have insisted they will see out the remaining year of their contracts.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Sun-Herald, Arthur defended the club’s attempt to manage its salary cap in the face of poaching raids, while opening up on Mahoney’s call to tell him he had accepted an offer from the Bulldogs, having been wooed by Phil Gould.

“We want to keep these guys, but it’s just impossible to do,” Arthur said. “It’s impossible to have them all.

“Am I disappointed these boys have to leave? Definitely. I appreciate and understand it’s a brave decision from them – none of them have enjoyed coming in and telling me they’re leaving the club. Everyone has got a different situation or need from the game, and I can’t be the one that makes judgment on it.

“We’ve tried to do the best we can in terms of managing our cap. This is more about management of the cap than what we think they’re worth. But I’m not panicking about it, I’m more than comfortable and I don’t take it personally. We will get more players, and we will develop more players.

“The club is in a better place than it has ever been. It will be bigger than any of us.”

Mahoney’s signature has been one of the most coveted in the NRL’s silly season, which has also seen Penrith’s Viliame Kikau (Bulldogs) and the Tigers’ Luciano Leilua (Cowboys) announce new homes for 2023.

“I’m not panicking about it. We will get more players, and we will develop more players.”

Brad Arthur

It has left Eels fans exasperated one of the best No.9s in the game, touted as a State of Origin selection by none other than Cameron Smith, will return to a club that let him go as a junior.

The Bulldogs tabled a mammoth offer worth more than $600,000 a season over four years for Mahoney, while the Eels only proposed a three-year extension.

The Mahoney news took the shine off the retention of captain Clint Gutherson and Reagan Campbell-Gillard, while the Eels have switched their focus to ensuring NSW prop Junior Paulo re-signs with the club. Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins have registered an interest in the 28-year-old, who is managed by the same interests as Gutherson and Mahoney.

On November 1, the Eels had 18 players off contract or with an option in their deal for 2023, leading to a roster scramble once other NRL clubs could formally table offers to their stars.

Asked about the impact of Mahoney’s decision to leave for the Bulldogs, Arthur said: “Four or five years ago I would have taken it personally. But I get where it’s at now.

“Reed started on a six-week deal, then a six-month deal and then a development deal. To his credit, he kept fighting for it. His training kept getting him his opportunities.

“Sometimes as a club it’s on the other foot where we’ve got to say, ‘It’s not working for you, or we don’t have room’. It’s a two-way street and it was hard for these boys to come and sit here and eyeball me to say they’re taking up another opportunity. I respect them for that.

“But we’re obviously doing something right. We’re a development club and every player that’s coming to our club at the moment, we’re making better players and better people. That’s the coach’s job to do that.

“I’m more than confident in the structure of the club and the coaching staff I’ve got, with Paul McGregor and Mick Ennis to help with that process.”

Five Eels players were named in Brad Fittler’s Future Blues squad, including NRL rookie Will Penisini along with emerging stars Jock Brazel, Larry Muagututia, Sean Russell and Blaize Talagi.

Having pushed eventual premiers Penrith all the way in a gripping week two finals clash, Arthur said his players now know they are capable of snapping a title drought spanning 35 years before Mahoney, Papali’i and Niukore head elsewhere.

“We always thought we were good enough and getting closer, but at the back end of the year after a tough four weeks we proved to ourselves – not anyone else – that we can,” Arthur said. “We always thought we could and believed we could, but there’s a difference between thinking and knowing it. We now know we’re not far off.

“And these three players are committed to doing the most they can for their teammates, the club and the fans for next year, and it won’t affect anything they do. The club will be there forever. There will be another coach that will come in after me and there will be more administrators.”

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Votes: 0


  • Of course Arthur is not panicking, his main objective is to keep his job and with this board he knows he is as safe as houses.  Both his sons will be soon safely inside the top 30 nothing could be better for him.  The whole squad is set up to be safe and make the finals.  While ever that happens Bea Arthur  will continue to plod along to his heart's content.  

    • Brads a fekking joke.

      • He's a joke that's been made a multi millionaire from our club, so who really is the joke??  It's us fans who continually stick by the club and fund the club year after year for absolutely no reward.



    • "The whole squad is set up to be safe and make the finals"

      You say that in one breath, which is exactly right, but the rest of it is your normal whingeing self. Would you prefer to go back 10 years and constantly miss finals and be one of the laughing stocks of the competition? Seems like you would, that's your forte, sook, sook, sook....and then sook some more. Jesus you're a negative, whiny bastard.

      • Flipper as an Eels fan I couldn't give a flying fuck what you think, how about that Cowfusi signing ??  He's an absolute grub so you should love him.  Birds of a feather and all that.

        • Nope I hate him, he's more your style, a fucking sook. Very dissapointed he's the 1st signing.

          • Mate I don't care, I don't care about your opinion you mean absolutely zero to real Eels fans.  The fact you still hang around like a bad smell says plenty about your character.  You have absolutely no shame.    The most hilarious thing is you had the hide to question anyone with a negative opinion about the club or your bald hero Bea Arthur that they were real fans.


            Fuck off you Judas scab.

            • What's hilarious is your incessant whingeing when you're clearly wrong most of the time but you're too stubborn to admit it!!! That's hilarious.

              • Flipper was on Fox last night, must of spent the night in with a bottle of lube and some pics of Bea Arthur.

            • What a sad little man you are Hunt. Brissy is twice the bloke you'll ever be. You are the lowest life form on this site.

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