Arthur puts last-chance Eels on notice
THEY are the last-chance Eels.
A team that could be shredded by yet another ill-disciplined loss this Sunday against fierce western Sydney rivals Penrith.
Insiders have revealed that Eels coach Brad Arthur has just about had enough after four successive losses.
An insipid performance against the Panthers - coupled with more reckless on-field behaviour - and Arthur would be prepared to make immediate and significant changes for a round six match against Canberra.
Parramatta has some hot young talent pushing their way through the grades and Arthur may not be prepared to wait any longer in elevating them into the NRL.
Arthur lashed his side's ill-discipline after Sunday's 30-20 loss to Wests Tigers, who actually led 30-6 midway through the second half.
The angry Eels coach threatened to axe ill-disciplined players but didn't follow through on Tuesday night, naming the same 17 for the Panthers game. The only change is forward Kane Evans returning from injury on an extended bench.
It would appear though that some players are on their final chance.
Arthur is fast losing patience.
They may not be the NRL's most penalised side but it is apparent where Parramatta is committing on-field suicide.
Eels players have been pinged over the opening four rounds for incorrect play-the-balls, inside the 10 metres, high tackles, leg pulls, holding down, hands on the ball, stealing the ball, markers not square, crusher tackles, flops and late hits on kickers.
Some Eels players are displaying little respect for the rules or their teammates.
"I have been in situations when you are busting your arse and nothing seems to be happening. The harder you work, the worse you seem to be playing," Eels legend Nathan Hindmarsh said.
"Your game plan goes out the window because all the individuals are trying to solve it by themselves. It gets worse.
"But they have been sloppy. They are lacking enthusiasm, they have been out-enthused by teams for longer periods.
"But I don't know about ill-discipline. I don't see that. They haven't been good but they haven't been s … house either.
"It's across the board, I can't single out any individuals. As a team, everyone can find an extra 10%. I guess that's easy for me to say, I'm not out there."
Eels CEO Bernie Gurr said there was one avenue out of his club's current dilemma.
"We just have to play our way out of this, there's no hiding from it," Gurr said. "It's unacceptable, it's not where we want to be.
"Parramatta is a big club with expectations. We will just have to fight our way out of it."
Asked had he addressed the players, Gurr said; "I haven't spoken to the playing group. There's no need. Brad and the football department have got it under control."
Parramatta has conceded 122 points in four rounds - the most of any NRL club.
Opposition coaches spoke about watching an Eels team playing without any confidence.
"They're just a little bit lost at the moment," said Parramatta great, Eric Grothe snr. "It's quite strange. They are lacking a bit of confidence.
"But all these things take is a win and a good win and it just rolls on from that. Once they do, they'll be hard to beat.
"I heard stories today that their season is nearly over, that's ridiculous. They can win 10, 11, 12 like they did in 2009 and things are back to normal."
Pressed on the team's ill-discipline, Grothe said: "The losses suggest there might be (a problem). As a team, and as mates, they would be sticking together and making sure they have the right attitude. It's not a good start but I don't think it's time for panic stations.
"But they really have to win on the weekend. It needs to start happening really soon. The bounce of the ball hasn't been with them either."
After the Wests Tigers loss, Arthur spoke passionately and honestly about his side's ill-discipline.
"If blokes can't be disciplined, they won't be in the team moving forward," Arthur said.
"Individuals have to be accountable for it. We will dig ourselves out but it needs to be right now.
"We've got no-one to blame but ourselves. None of the boys are playing real well. We're zero and four. If you don't have the ball, it makes it very hard. We just have to knuckle down and get that first win and then we'll go from there.
"It doesn't matter if the referees want to stand 20 metres back, you've got to be behind them. You can't stand in front of them."