Brad Arthur may be through to his first NRL Grand Final, but it's hard to envy the coach as he's faced with one of rugby league's hardest conundrums - whether to drop his son before the decider.

Young half Jakob Arthur has come under unfair scrutiny in 2022, at times booed as he entered the field, even suffering through claims of nepotism on his way to a dozen games this season, eight of which coming off the bench.

However, after failing to get on the field in their preliminary final win, the questions need to start getting asked, can Parramatta afford to carry him in a Grand Final against Penrith?

He's proved to be handy cover at times, the Eels lucky he was on the bench when Mitchell Moses was knocked out in the Qualifying Final with under 20 minutes remaining, Jakob injected into the halves as his replacement.

But no team sucks energy out of a side like Penrith, they're going to need all four bench players if they want to exhaust the Panthers at their own game.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 18: Jakob Arthur of Parramatta runs the ball during the NRL trial match between the Parramatta Eels and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on February 18, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Melbourne were the last team to win a premiership despite leaving a player on the bench for 80 minutes, Nicho Hynes still presented with a premiership ring even though the utility was forced to watch their Grand Final win over Penrith entirely from the bench.

Now, Jakob's father stands in his way between himself and a potential premiership victory less than 20 matches into his NRL career.

Meanwhile, bench forward Makahesi Makatoa watched the preliminary final as 18th man, just the second game this season he hasn't partaken in. Coming into an extremely physical Grand Final focused on the middle third, Makatoa shouldn't be making plans yet.

While the dilemma with his son is sure to cost him some hours of sleep, the eight-year head coach is confident in ending his season on a high.

“I haven’t been worried about my future because I knew the boys had my back,” he said.

“We need to be excited about the opportunity we’ve got and the occasion of the week. We need to enjoy it.

“I’ve got no idea how to handle it because I haven’t been there before but we’ll take it a day at a time.

“When we get there we’re going to have a real crack at that 80 minutes and hopefully I’ve got a smile on my face at the end of the game.

“We didn’t have any experience in a prelim and we did all right.

“I know I’ve got a footy team in there. If we frontload our effort and they play for each other, I think our footy’s good enough to win.

“We’ve still got 80 minutes of a lifetime. It’s a real opportunity for us next week and that’s all we’re worrying about at the moment.”

There's no doubt Brad will be exploring all options before naming his side on Tuesday afternoon.


  1. I suggest Brad will put Jacob on the bench, as cover for Moses. If Moses goes down – with no cover on the bench – Parra may as well quit and go home.

    Brad usually uses the bench sparingly. In Makatoa’s last three matches coming off the bench he averaged only 11-12 minutes a game. Last Saturday, Bryce Cartwright was on the pitch for just 14 minutes.

    There is nothing to gained by putting another middle forward on the bench instead of Jacob, if that player will get little or no game time. Better to stick with Jacob, because if he is needed, a forward on the bench will be worthless.

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