Embattled Eels coach Brad Arthur said it could take months to work out why his side’s season has crumbled since relocating to Queensland and conceded the time for talking was over after last week’s “humiliation”.
After another week in which the club was forced to deny bubble life had undone a promising campaign with four straight losses, Arthur accepted the majority of responsibility for Parramatta’s slide, which has dropped them out of the top four.
The Eels are favoured to return to winning ways against the struggling Cowboys on Saturday night before a torrid finish to the regular season against title heavyweights Melbourne and Penrith.
Asked about the ability of different clubs to handle hub life, Arthur said: “I’d be lying to you if I knew the answer. There might be 10 different people with different opinions on what’s going wrong.
“We could sit here for the next three months trying to work it out. Have we done too much? Have we not done enough? Do all the players get along? Do they not get along? I’ll never get to the bottom of that.
“What I do know is we’re not playing well enough and every team has to go through the same situation we’re in. There’s been some adjustments this week to see if we can get a change of response. Now the boys are surrounded by their families and this is as close as we can get to being in Sydney.
“We’re paid to do a job - and at the moment we’re not doing it good enough.”
Arthur denied there was a squabble over hotel room sizes which had caused a fracture in the squad. The players and staff left the resort they were originally quarantining in to move to serviced apartments this week, but the move was pre-scheduled.
Nevertheless, Arthur has never needed a win more to quieten the noise surrounding the Eels - and they couldn’t have asked for a better opponent, with the Cowboys on a nine-game losing run.
“The result is important, but probably more so our response to a bit of humiliation last week,” Arthur said. “I need to see a response in a team that was hurting and embarrassed by the performance.
“There are 17 players and myself that contributed to what happened the other night. It’s hard to single out one person - and we haven’t done that. More responsibility falls on my shoulders than anyone.”
Arthur has recalled young outside backs Haze Dunster and Will Penisini at the expense of Tom Opacic and Michael Oldfield, while Ryan Matterson will start a three-game suspension after being sent off for a high shot on Brad Parker.
The Eels sent a letter to club members last Sunday acknowledging their frustration as another season threatens to unravel on the eve of the finals. Prop Junior Paulo penned similar correspondence the previous week, claiming the club still had “fighting spirit” and believed they were “still a top four team”.