Parramatta Eels fans abusing Jake Arthur in the wake of the side's loss to Canberra last weekend nearly moved NRL legend Laurie Daley to tears he says, as he and former Eels captain Clint Gutherson slammed the behaviour of fans. The pair discussed the incident, which was first brought to light thanks to a post on a Parramatta fan page on Facebook.
One fan had taken to the site firstly to thanks players for coming out to sign autographs after the loss - only for Arthur to be met with a group of what they called 'dead-set f***wits' who hurled abuse at the 20-year-old.
"‘I couldn’t help but to tell them to pull their heads in, the gutless wonders mumbled something under their breaths and squirmed off," the fan wrote. "A friend of mine then asked him (Arthur) for an autograph which he responded ‘are you sure?’"
Daley said the idea that Arthur, the son of Eels head coach Brad Arthur' wasn't even certain a fan of his own club would want his autograph was enough to nearly move him to tears. He lashed out at the group of fans responsible, questioning why they would even bother supporting the team if they were only going to use it as an excuse to have a crack at a player.
“Geez I find that unsavoury when people do that. He’s a young boy out there doing his best and people want to be critical of him,” Daley said. He was accompanied on his Big Sports Breakfast show by Gutherson, who said the younger Arthur was 'fine' after the troubling incident.
Arthur has spoken publicly before about the amount of criticism he has copped, both in person and online, from fans looking to take a cheap shot over the fact his father coaches the team. Gutherson told Daley that Arthur 'never deserved' any of the criticism that he's faced in his brief NRL career to date.
Arthur was a late inclusion for Parramatta after Mitchell Moses was ruled out with a concussion, only to be confronted with abusive fans following the 26-18 loss to the Raiders. It hasn't been plain sailing for the Eels this season after their grand final appearance in 2022, but Gutherson backed Arthur to continue to rise above the commentary.
Jake Arthur needs to look at another club to sign on with to continue his career without fears of nepotism and being bullied by so-called "fans". I really feel for him; hes just a kid ffs who hasn't played NRL since last year. Give him a break and give yourself an uppercut.
— Jesse (@JesseValeri) May 16, 2023
Jake needs to change clubs away from his dad, the kid will probably make it at another club. But no player should have to be treated like that, constructive criticism is fine, flat out abuse is not on.
— Paul Gibbons (@PaulGibbons6) May 16, 2023
Omg fans - wat are you doing ??? Give the kid a break. He is awesome . I hope he’s ok
— Femme (@Zkuy8888) May 16, 2023
“He’s a very strong character and he’s copped a lot ... he’s never deserved anything that he’s got,” Gutherson said. “It’s never just anyone’s fault that you lose a game of footy, it’s a team sport.
"I thought he was good on the weekend, he played good footy. He probably missed one kick at the start of the second half there and he’s his own toughest critic.
“We all stand by Jakey when he comes into the team and it definitely wasn’t his fault we lost on the weekend. All the fans, they’re just looking for an excuse and for some reason it’s always Jakey. I’d rather put my hand up and take that heat off him.”
Jake Arthur stoic in face of abuse from Eels fans
Arthur has said in the past that he was 'taught from a young age not to respond', with Brad Arthur correctly predicting that no matter what he did in the NRL, there would always be someone willing to take a potshot at him. The Eels have started the season with only four wins from 11 games but have only lost by an average margin of 5.7 points - less than a converted try - and have the fifth-best for-and-against in the league.
"It just shows how close we are," Gutherson said. "We're obviously disappointed and would like to be on the other end of where we are but that's the way it is, that's where we stand. Every single game this year, we've been in it until the 80th minute."
The lukewarm form is all the more surprising given their history of starting seasons strongly. Parramatta sat first on the ladder through nine rounds in 2020, won nine of their first ten in 2021 and were entrenched in the top eight at the same point last year.
But a similarly slow start in 2019 has given Gutherson confidence the Eels can turn things around - the Eels won only five of their first 11 games that year, but began to turn things around by upsetting the ladder-leading Rabbitohs in round 12. They won three of their next four games and eventually finished in the top eight.
Coincidentally, Parramatta face the top-of-the-table South Sydney on Friday for a chance to reassert their credentials.
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