Brad Arthur in tearful admission about wife amid 'disgraceful' backlash to Eels axing

Arthur was sensationally shown the door at the Eels after 11 years as the NRL club's coach.

Brad Arthur has been praised around the NRL world after his classy response to this week's bombshell sacking as head coach of Parramatta. The former Eels mentor was shown the door one day before his 50th birthday and was brought to tears speaking about the support of his wife Michelle, as the club's handling of his sacking and treatment of Arthur was branded by some as "disgraceful".

Arthur - whose best season with the Eels came in 2022 when he guided them into the NRL grand final - was axed after an underwhelming 2023 season, coupled with a poor start to 2024. Arthur failed to win a premiership in a decade at the Eels and the club's board called time on his stay with the Eels languishing in 14th on the ladder after just three wins in 10 games this season.

Pictured left is former Parramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur and his wife Michelle.
Sacked Parramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur choked back tears speaking about the sacrifices his wife Michelle had made over the course of his career in the NRL. Pic: Getty

"It was the view of the board and CEO that the progress of our NRL team has stalled," the Eels said in a statement on Monday. "Our goal is to win premierships and it is time for the club to go in a new direction." Despite the sudden news of his axing, Arthur fronted the media for a series of interviews in the immediate aftermath and broke down speaking with Channel Seven about the support of his wife throughout his career.

"Michelle’s put her whole life on hold for me and the kids," a visibly emotional Arthur said. He also appeared on Fox League's NRL 360 program on Tuesday night and said he had no bitterness or resentment towards the Parramatta club for his sacking. The veteran coach said he understood the brutal nature of the sport and the fact it was a results-driven industry, before declaring his desire to return to the coaching hot seat in the future.

This image shows Brad Arthur in an interview with Channel Seven.
Brad Arthur became emotional when talking about the support of his wife Michelle, following his sacking as head coach of the Parramatta Eels. Pic: Seven

“I wouldn’t change any of it,” Arthur said. “I’ve really enjoyed my time and I’m really grateful for my time, I don’t hold any resentment, I’m not bitter about what’s happened. I’ve made some wonderful friendships, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve grown as a person... Someone could have told me 11 years ago that this is where I’d be and even that I’d get sacked on my 50th birthday, I would have accepted it...

“Parramatta’s a massive club so I’ve gotten used to it (the pressure), so I know whatever’s next for me I’m going to be better again. I’m proud of where I started to where I am now. In 11 years, we’ve played in finals, hopefully I’ve contributed to changing people’s lives. We’ve had young men become men with young families, representative players, I got to experience a Grand Final week, got to watch my young bloke debut — what more could I ask for?"


Arthur's response to his sacking has earned him fans all around the league world, with many praising him for a "classy" reaction to the brutal development. One fan posted on X: "Brad Arthur is a class act, and a good coach whose time just ran up at the Eels. I can’t see him being out of a job too long." Another added: "Just watched Brad Arthur and if nothing else he showed himself as a real class act. Sorry to see him go but hopefully not lost to Rugby League. I wish him all the best in his future endeavours."

Speaking on NRL 360 on Tuesday night though, The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie described Parramatta's treatment of their long-serving coach as "disgraceful". The veteran league reporter took particular exception to reports the Eels had secretly tried to sign Wayne Bennett as their next head coach, before the Dolphins mentor ultimately agreed to rejoin South Sydney from next season.

“I think it’s been handled disgracefully, the entire episode,” Ritchie said. “I think it’s been disrespectful, I think they’ve shown disdain to Brad. For them to sack him on May 1 and push him out in front of the media for three more weeks while going behind his back in a deceitful manner to pursue another coach, I think it’s a disgrace and it’s cruel.”

Fellow News Corp journalist Brent Read took a more philosophical view on Parramatta's pursuit of Bennett and sacking of Arthur, saying he understood why the club took the approach it did. “Parramatta were chasing Wayne and they wanted to do it confidentially. If they sacked Brad on May 1, there’s no way they would have kept those talks confidential,” Read said.

“You can argue whether that’s right or wrong — it probably is not the way to treat Brad — but we were criticising them on this show for not chasing Wayne Bennett. They chased Wayne, they thought the best way they could get him was to do it behind closed doors without anyone knowing. Ultimately it failed, but if they pulled it off we would’ve been going ‘they’re geniuses.’ I understand that people have a view point that Brad’s been treated poorly, but I also understand why they did it.”