Brad Arthur will be given the backing to rebuild Parramatta. (Jenny Evans)
Brad Arthur will be given the backing to rebuild Parramatta. (Jenny Evans)

Arthur backed to rebuild Parra

BRAD Arthur will be given unprecedented support, expertise and structures to transform Parramatta into a consistent premiership force.

Three months after announcing a top-to-toe examination of the Eels' football department, CEO Bernie Gurr has revealed the critical outcome of the review which included 162 interviews of players, coaches, board and management.

The Eels board ordered the independent review amid their woeful 2018 season which ended with the club's third wooden spoon in eight years.

The review ultimately supported Arthur's tenure as head coach for next season, however it identified a number of deficiencies within the football department structure which, as a result, has triggered a major overhaul of how the club recruits, develops and coaches its players from NRL down to elite-level under-16s.

The wide-reaching revamp will ensure that no longer will the blue and gold army have any excuses for failure.

Brad Arthur has been given the vote of confidence. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)
Brad Arthur has been given the vote of confidence. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)
 

 

THE REVIEW

Leadership expert and consultant Shane McCurry was charged with conducting the review.

"The review was done because when you go from 16th to eighth and eighth to 16th, we had to sharpen our lens on the footy department,'' Gurr told The Telegraph.

"It covered all areas of the footy department, NRL, ISP, 20s, 18s, 16s and Tarsha Gale (women's).

"It covered recruitment, salary cap, player roster management and the junior leagues - so that we can have a best practice high performance football department.

"We want a sustainable, competitive, successful NRL team and a vital part of that is head coaching.

"This is to give Brad and his coaching staff and our players the tools to be successful.

"No one wins a comp every year, but you want to get to that Storm, Roosters-like level of consistency.''

 

Parramatta CEO Bernie Gurr wants a brand new Parramatta.
Parramatta CEO Bernie Gurr wants a brand new Parramatta.

 

THE CHANGES

The Eels have reacted immediately to the review, appointing Mark O'Neill in a newly created role as general manager of football.

O'Neill's task is diverse and demanding, charged with ensuring the high performance of the club in every facet, reporting to Gurr, working in recruitment and roster management with Arthur, while also overseeing the club's entire football program.

"He'll take pressure off Brad, he'll take pressure of me and he'll be the one day-to-day enforcing high performance best practice,'' Gurr said.

A full-time junior coaching co-ordinator "for the 20s, 18, 16s and Tarsha Gale with a direct line to Brad" will also be appointed next week, while another key inclusion for the Eels will be a new head of recruitment.

The in-depth role will be separate to that of current recruitment manager Peter Sharp, who will focus specifically on NRL talent.

 

It must be one of the hardest jobs in rugby league. (Phil Hillyard)
It must be one of the hardest jobs in rugby league. (Phil Hillyard)

 

"The review has confirmed we need to be more sophisticated in our recruitment,'' Gurr said.

"We need to get more data-centric and more analytical in how we go about recruitment. It's not Moneyball, but it's touching on it.

"We'll have a centralised database that gives a consistency in our evaluation of players.

"The reality is, since 2009, the club has been basically been in turmoil.

"And last year showed, particularly in a more competitive competition, we need to update our recruitment processes.''

 

 

The Wentworthville Magpies claimed the 2018 Ron Massey Cup. (Facebook/Wentworthville Magpies)
The Wentworthville Magpies claimed the 2018 Ron Massey Cup. (Facebook/Wentworthville Magpies)

 

BYE BYE WENTY

The Eels' 12-year relationship with reserve grade feeder-club the Wentworthville Magpies in the NSW Intrust Super Premiership competition will conclude at the end of next season.

The Eels will field their own Parramatta ISP team in 2020.

"The review confirmed that Parramatta needs to be a development club, that's our DNA,'' Gurr said.

"Not unlike the Panthers, who are a development club, or the Broncos and Cowboys.

"If we're going to be a legitimate development club, we want to have a cradle-to-grade scenario where you come in at 16s, 20s, reserve grade and NRL, you put on the blue and gold. We're one club, one logo.''

 

The Eels don’t want to lose Hayne again. (Jason McCawley/Getty Images)
The Eels don’t want to lose Hayne again. (Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

 

EEL OR NO DEAL?

Separate to the review findings is a backdrop of uncertainty surrounding several of the club's most important pieces of their 2019 puzzle, including Mitchell Moses, Corey Norman and Jarryd Hayne.

Coupled with that is the club's desire to promote young forward Stefano Utoikamanu 18, explosive winger Greg Leleisiuao, 21, and hooker Kyle Schneider, 18, who if they impress in the preseason can push for NRL selection.

Both on-contract next season, halves Moses and Norman have been continually linked to rival clubs.

Asked if they would both be at preseason training on November 1, Gurr said: "Yes. At the moment, our position is, they're contracted they'll be here next year.''

Hayne remains without a deal for 2019 and has 22 days before he's a free agent.

"We'd like to keep him, no question,'' Gurr said. "We're about to talk to him to see what he wants to do.''

 

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