Phil Gould calls out 'strange' Mitchell Moses detail after Parramatta's axing of Brad Arthur

The Eels' decision to sack Brad Arthur has stunned a number of NRL greats.

Bulldogs supremo Phil Gould says he was shocked to learn of Brad Arthur's Eels sacking and questioned whether the decision was made based on emotion rather than logic. The long-time Eels coach was sacked with immediate effect on Monday on the back of Parramatta's second-half collapse against the Melbourne Storm in Magic Round.

The Eels 48-16 loss to Melbourne on Sunday sealed the coach's fate. The 49-year-old had been at the helm of Parramatta since 2014 and took the club to the grand final in 2022 where they lost to Panthers. But Arthur failed to win the club an elusive premiership and the board ultimately became fed up after just three wins from 10 games in 2024.

Pictured left Phil Gould and right Mitchell Moses
Phil Gould says he is befuddled by the Eels decision to sack Brad Arthur as Mitchell Moses and Clint Gutherson near their returns. Image: Getty

On Monday afternoon the Eels released a statement that pointed to the lack of growth at the club over the last 18 months as the reason for Arthur making way. "It was the view of the Board and CEO that the progress of our NRL team has stalled," the statement read.

But Gould said everyone had put the Eels' recent struggles down to the absence of Mitchell Moses and Clint Gutherson and with the No.7 nearing a return he believes the club should have given Arthur a chance to turn things around.

"I found it strange (his sacking) because we're on the verge of Mitchell Moses coming back," Gould said on Nine's 100% Footy. "We've been saying for a couple of months, 'things will turn around when they get their halfback (back).'

"It's the funny thing with this competition, there are some teams when their main man is down, they can't score a try, let alone win a game. That's been the case since Mitchell Moses has been out. I thought they might have given him (Arthur) time (to coach) once Moses comes back to see if there was any improvement.

"On the weekend, I can imagine that left a sour taste in officials mouths and that's why they'd made a decision when they did," Gould said. I don't know how this decision is going to fix it in the short term, it's not going to fix it in the short term, that's for sure. Parramatta's got some thinking ahead of their next decision for head coach and direction of the club , I guess."

NRL great Gorden Tallis also was of the opinion that Arthur was unlucky to lose his job despite a horror run of form. "I reckon he was a little bit hard done by," Tallis said on NRL360.

"To lose your halfback, and we’ve seen it with other teams, but when you have someone as dominant around the ball as Mitch Moses who touches the ball 60-70 times, they do struggle to win without him. I think it’s a bit hard on Brad Arthur. I actually think Arthur has done a very good job with that roster."


Reports emerged on Monday that the Eels had been trying to sign Wayne Bennett as coach for almost three weeks, and despite failing to do so, still opted to sack Arthur. On Tuesday Bennett confirmed he had signed a three-year deal at South Sydney. Bennett coached the Bunnies from 2019 to 2021 when the side made two preliminary finals and the 2021 grand final.

However, the Eels tried their best to snatch him from underneath the Rabbitohs. But the 74-year-old coach ultimately decided to return to Redfern in 2025, stating he had unfinished business at the NRL's oldest club.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30: Wayne Bennett head coach of the Dolphins speaks to the media during the round four NRL match between Gold Coast Titans and Dolphins at Cbus Super Stadium, on March 30, 2024, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Parramatta's pursuit of Wayne Bennett failed with the veteran coach signing a three-year deal with the Rabbitohs.

With Arthur gone, 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. Parramatta have created a shortlist with NSW State of Origin coach Michael Maguire one of the main names on it.

Others in consideration for the Eels job are Blake Green - who is currently an assistant to Adam O’Brien at Newcastle - and former Titans coach Justin Holbrook.

Jason Ryles, who turned down the Dragons' head coaching role last year to be an assistant to Craig Bellamy at the Storm, could also be of interest to the Eels. In the meantime, Parramatta will look to turn things around under Barrett this weekend when they face the Rabbitohs on Saturday.