Brad Arthur sacked as Parramatta coach after Eels exposed in 'embarrassing' scenes

The coach's future has been decided after another second half collapse.

Brad Arthur has been sacked with immediate effect after the Eels' latest second half collapse against the Melbourne Storm in Magic Round on Sunday. The first of two Harry Grant tries sounded alarm bells for the Eels, who went on to concede 32 points in the second half in a 48-16 drubbing by the high-flying Storm.

The 49-year-old Arthur had been Eels coach since 2014 and took the club to the grand final in 2022 where they lost to Penrith. But he failed to win a premiership in a decade at the helm and the Eels are languishing in 14th on the ladder with three wins from 10 games in 2024.

"It was the view of the board and CEO that the progress of our NRL team has stalled," the Eels said in a statement. "Our goal is to win premierships and it is time for the club to go in a new direction."

Melbourne Storm captain Harry Grant exposed a worrying issue for Brad Arthur's Parramatta Eels side in the NRL. Pic: Getty/NRL
Melbourne Storm captain Harry Grant exposed a worrying issue for Brad Arthur's Parramatta Eels side in the NRL. Pic: Getty/NRL

Trent Barrett will take over as interim head coach until the end of the 2024 season as the Eels look to find a permanent replacement to Arthur. "We want to thank Brad, who has worked tirelessly for the club over a 10-year period," the Eels added.

"During his time as head coach, the club has played in five finals series, including a grand final in 2022. We wish Brad and his family the very best in the future and we are very grateful for his services to the club."

The heavy defeat to the Storm marked Parramatta's sixth loss from seven games since star halfback Mitchell Moses was sidelined with a fracture in his foot. And Sunday's mauling from Melbourne was the third time during that span that they've conceding at least 40 points in an NRL game this season. The second halves of Parramatta's matches have been particularly worrying for Arthur's men, with 28 points put on by the Raiders, 40 by the Dolphins, 26 by Manly and 32 by the Storm on Sunday.

The signs were ominous for the Eels even before half-time against the Storm though, as Melbourne captain Grant exposed a glaring issue with Parramatta's defence. Xavier Coates found space way too easily down the left wing, before drawing in Eels fullback Blaize Talagi and putting in a kick towards the centre of the field for Grant.


There were no Eels players even remotely close to Grant, with the Storm skipper allowed to scoop up the footy and stroll over the tryline unopposed to give the Eels a 16-4 lead. The lack of urgency in defence and game awareness from Parramatta was merely a precursor of what was to come as the Storm piled on the points in the second half.

Grant sealed a try-scoring double shortly after the break, while Reimis Smith also bagged a double. Coates also got his name on the scoresheet while Eliesa Katoa out-jumped Maika Sivo to complete the 32-point second half rout to leave Arthur questioning his side's attitude and others questioning his future as coach.

"It's happened too often over the last month or so," said Arthur, who described his side's effort early in the second half as 'embarrassing'. "Obviously when we get under a little bit of fatigue, we're lacking that resilience to defend a set." Arthur's position as coach has routinely come under fire in his 11 seasons at the helm that are yet to yield a premiership. Parramatta's hierarchy have also publicly declared their support for the 49-year-old coach, amid reports last month linking master coach Wayne Bennett to the club.

Seen here, Parramatta Eels players after their round 11 drubbing by the Melbourne Storm.
The Parramatta Eels slumped to their seventh NRL defeat in 10 games this season after Sunday's round 11 drubbing by the Melbourne Storm. Pic: Getty

The reality is the Eels have now slumped to a 3-7 record and their finals hopes are fading fast. Four more losses will leave them with the same number of defeats as the side that finished eighth last season. It leaves next Saturday's clash against fellow strugglers South Sydney as a must-win for the embattled side - and they will now head into it with a new coach.

"I do," Arthur said when asked if he was the right man to continue coaching the club. "(The pressure) is going to be the same. But I've never walked away from a fight and we're going to keep fighting hard. I still believe in this team but they've got to start to believe in themselves, especially when they're under a bit of pressure."

Many Eels fans had clearly run out of patience with Arthur and veteran league reporter Phil Rothfield said it's the culmination of their poor performances over the last two seasons. “I am not just judging him on three wins after 11 rounds. You have also got to look at the back end and the second half of last season when Parramatta capitulated and missed out on the finals," Rothfield said on Sky Sports’ Radio’s The Big Sports Breakfast.

“This isn’t a three or four month problem. This is something where Parramatta haven’t aimed up for a couple of seasons now. I don’t think there is any possible way they are going to make the finals this year. I raised doubts about Brad Arthur, but I was critical of the Parramatta board five or six weeks ago when Wayne Bennett was still available. I suggested then that if they want the best in the business, they should be chasing the guy that built the Dolphins. They want the guy that’s won seven premierships. They should be acting now as in six weeks ago. But they didn’t.” Rothfield said he thinks Arthur has "run out of ideas" to turn Parramatta's fortunes around and league great Laurie Daley said a defeat to Souths would have been catastrophic for the coach.