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Parramatta chairman admits the club may have a culture problem

It’s probably the strongest admission you will ever get from an NRL club chairman.

But Parramatta boss Max Donnelly has conceded: “I didn’t think culture was a problem but you have got to question it.”

On the day troubled forward Kenny Edwards is due to front court after allegedly doing a runner from police after being spotted driving while suspended, Donnelly opened up to The Daily Telegraph.

In a wideranging interview, Donnelly hit back at suggestions from Ray Hadley that Brad Arthur had lost the dressing room and addressed Jarryd Hayne’s future beyond this year.

“I certainly deny anything like the coach has lost the dressing room,” Donnelly said.

Asked specifically if he believed Arthur was the right man to lead the club long-term, Donnelly said: “At the moment I believe he is and he is contracted until 2019.”

Donnelly is the administrator who was brought in to clean up the Eels’ salary cap scandal mess.

But problems on and off the field continue to tear at the club’s reputation.

You only have to look at the success of their cash-strapped rivals the Wests Tigers to see how quickly a club can turn things around after years of underachieving, if the right people are appointed in the right positions.

While the Tigers don’t have near the rivers of gold Parramatta’s wealthy Leagues Club provides them, the Tigers have made a strategic choice under new chief executive Justin Pascoe and coach Ivan Cleary to base their recruitment strategy around character and players willing to buy into team culture ahead of talent and reputation.

The likes of Russell Packer and Benji Marshall are the perfect examples of the type of players now driving the Tigers’ culture.

With that put to Donnelly, he said: “I can’t argue with you but I don’t think there is the (culture) problem you are suggesting at Parramatta.

“There may be something in it. But (chief executive) Bernie (Gurr) runs a pretty good front office.”

Parramatta hold the longest premiership drought of all NRL clubs, having not won the title since 1986 under John Monie.

They also have the second biggest junior catchment in the NRL behind Penrith yet continually struggle to produce and retain local talent.

Their two best young talents, five-eighth Jaeman Salmon and back-rower Maraka Niukore, came from rival clubs.

Arthur has also been criticised for his recruitment and retention policy, dating back to Anthony Watmough and Kieran Foran, deals that ended in disaster.

But Donnelly denied recruitment was a problem.

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Typical Hadley, will always kick us when we are down. A big clean out is required but if the NRL are going to reduce the interchange down to 6 I hope they do it soon.

Rays getting lots of leaks from Dennis who is getting them from Max, its known Max has loose lips, i personally think a lot of the mail Rays getting is spot on at the time he gets it.

The recruitment is a very big problem at the moment
Instead of buying players who are on the verge of retiring
Players like Watnough, scott, Gower, Mannah... they should be going for youth and someone to build a team around
We definitely need some decent forwards
And a hooker, and another outside back
I think going for Jr Paulo and David Klemmer Is a good start

The older players were recruited at a time when we had zero experience and needed more experience to develop the Young team 

Culture is a problem at this club mediocrity and failure is accepted for me the best examples is the kaysa kenny urine scandal both players should of been sacked people will say kenny got punished but he was out injured at the time.

Corys drug conviction he should of bern sacked and the nrl should of stood him down the following season.

We need to change the culture and manufacture the type of individuals who are accountable for their actions

Eels KULTCHA has been a major problem for years.

But who listens to demented old farts that can see it from 000s of miles away?


I think Parra has completely underestimated it for years and years... any wonder why we have the longest premiership drought. It is absolutely critical... be it a sporting team, a workplace... anything.

Mentioned this in another blog - best way to sum it up is the All Blacks "no dickheads" policy. Simple but so effective. Brought in by Gilbert Enoka in 2000. The more you read about it, the more you realise that if this represents one end of the scale, we are well up the other end. Until this is fixed, not much else matters - it's the foundation on which everything else is built.

Absolutely the swans followed it aswell and turned the club around obviously different circumstances they got alot of assistance from the afl but were a perennial strugglers but not anymore.

Obviously salary cap and development play parts but if u had to choose vetween a kenny Edwards and a clean skin with slightly less ability id go the cleanskin and it will most likely pay off over time.

Offside, the issue is the NRL; the buck stops with them. We can do all we can to have clean skins etc but the issue has been other clubs pick up these players and it goes from there. I have no doubt if we sacked Kenny / KP a few yrs ago they’d have been picked up and i imagine that Parra didn’t want that besides hoping these guys pulled their heads in.

The NRL have allowed inconsistenties into the game and for me they should have the power to step in etc.

Yeah... agree with that Mitchy. The Raiders were a great example of that for many years i.e. doing the right thing and punting players for being tools only to then be playing against those same players after they are picked up by other clubs on usually lower value contracts.

The club doing the right thing ends up being penalised. NRL needs to back the clubs and block the player from signing with another club for a period of time.

yes i am on the same side here Will. Clubs can do all they like but if other clubs can then pick up these guys, that is when we have double standards. Lets face it the integrity unit seems a bit toothless at times.

Yes agree Mitchy and Will...and raiders were hard done by in the past.  It’s too easy for players to get out of contracts and shift to a club where a better offer may present...like how  the raiders and Junior went down with us. For example Norms is on his last chance wouldn’t take much for him to spark a get out atm...it’s only the players integrity at risk but even that is forgiven too quickly...ala Junior style.

Still such a shame in Kenny’s case as its not for similar reasons as say Dugan or Fergo who stated it was a plan to get out or junior for the bigger bucks ...big difference.

really wish this wasn’t happening but wish him well in recovering from this.


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