Parramatta called out over 'pathetic' act as Brad Arthur fights to save NRL coaching job

Questions continue to mount around Arthur's future as Eels coach.

Brad Arthur's future as Parramatta coach has come under fresh scrutiny after the Eels' latest underwhelming display in the NRL. Winning 8-4 at halftime, Arthur's side were thrashed 44-16 by the Dolphins in Darwin, despite their opponents missing a number of their biggest stars including representative quartet Herbie Farnworth, Thomas Flegler, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Felise Kaufusi.

Arthur torched his side after the embarrassing loss, accusing them of "giving up" and describing the Eels as a "part-time footy side". And veteran league reporter Phil Rothfield suggested the Parramatta coach could be on borrowed time at the club after labelling the performance "pathetic" and suggesting the under-fire coach had lost his playing group after an epic second half capitulation.

Pictured left to right, Parramatta NRL coach Brad Arthur and Eels captain Clint Gutherson.
Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has come under fire after his Eels side were thrashed by the Dolphins in Darwin in round 7 of the NRL. Pic: Getty/AAP

“There were eight tries in 25 minutes... that was pathetic up in Darwin. Pathetic,” Rothfield said on Monday’s Big Sports Breakfast radio show. “Brad said they gave up. It’s the coach’s job to have his team ready on game day and they’re not. They aren’t playing for him. It’s so obvious."

It's not the first time this season that Arthur's coaching future haas been called into question, with the Eels coach bristling at reports linking Wayne Bennett to the club earlier in April. Bennett has been linked with both the head coaching role, as well as a director of footy role at Parramatta, but Arthur said he had the confidence of club bosses and would be the first to know if his position is under threat.

Arthur has been at the helm for 11 years and took the Eels to the 2022 grand final in his best season with the club. But he's so far been unable to end the longest premiership drought of any club, with the Eels' last grand final triumph coming way back in 1986. Parramatta missed the finals last year and pressure has been mounting on him to turn things around in 2024.

Pressure mounts on Eels coach after Dolphins debacle

But the Eels have now slumped to four losses in their first seven games of the season and are languishing in 14th spot on the ladder. Arthur's men are dealing with the long-term injury to star halfback Mitchell Moses, but Rothfield said the problems at the club go well beyond his absence, as highlighted by the Dolphins game.

”The bottom line is that you have to look at the enormity of that loss. The final score was 44-16 and they conceded eight tries in 25 minutes and that team the Dolphins put onto the park is way below their best side,” Rothfield said. “The Dolphins were without (Herbie) Farnworth, Tom Flegler, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Felise Kaufusi but still destroyed Parramatta in that 25 minutes.

Seen here, the Dolphins score a try in the 44-16 thumping of the Eels in in the NRL.
The Dolphins ran riot in a 44-16 thumping of the Eels in Darwin in round 7 of the NRL. Pic: Getty

“Parramatta are running last in the NSW Cup. Their Jersey Flegg side haven’t won a game. For a club with a feeder system and that massive junior league, that is unacceptable.” The veteran league journalist says Eels chairman Sean McElduff has put a lot of blame for the club's current form down to the absence of Moses, but Rothfield pointed to the way other clubs have still managed to get results without their best players.


“Sean McElduff, all he wants to do is blame Mitchell Moses’ injury,” Rothfield said. “I tried to point out that they conceded 41 points against Canberra (two weeks ago) and 44 points against the Dolphins. Mitch Moses wouldn’t have changed that defence. You look at Melbourne without Munster, Panthers without Cleary, Broncos without Reynolds. They all battled on and kept winning.

“It says a lot about the entire structure and pathways of the club that they don’t have another option to bring into the side when Moses is out. They are in all sorts. Brad Arthur has been there a long period of time. They’ve lost nine of their last 15 games and he said they gave up. That’s the heaviest quote you can get."