SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 08: Corey Norman laughs as he warms-ups during a Parramatta Eels NRL training session at the Old Saleyards Reserve on May 8, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

No one.

That’s right. No one.

The big purchase that Parramatta needed was completed halfway through the 2017 season when Mitchell Moses packed his bags and made his way over from the Wests Tigers.

That was the big purchase and that remains the big purchase. Finding a new half to partner him in the blue and gold will not fix Parramatta’s woes, in fact it could just heighten them even more.

Corey Norman still has another season under his contract to prove himself and I truly believe he can do it and, despite the position on the ladder, has been proving it in moments throughout this horrible season.

Just last week, the Eels announced the shock signing of winger Blake Ferguson on a three-year deal. He’s not Semi Radradra I know that, but he is not a bad replacement by any means.

The former State of Origin player is not only taller in height but also heavier in weight than the Fijian winger. This is height and weight that the likes of Bevan French or Josh Hoffman cannot provide on the edge of the team and has proved costly multiple times throughout the season.

With a smaller forward pack the Eels need bulk anywhere they can get it and Ferguson is going to offer that. Any off field baggage that Ferguson may carry with him aside, he is having a fantastic season.

He offers strong runs with the ball and many metres to relieve pressure from not only the halves but also Clint Gutherson at fullback. He offers experience through his 181 games at Cronulla, Canberra and Sydney as well as representative honours with the Indigenous All Stars, Prime Minister’s XIII, Country, New South Wales and Australian teams.

This is experience that players such as George Jennings and again, French and Hoffman have not been able to provide to the team. I do not want to place blame on specific players such as Jennings, French or Hoffman however statistics do not lie.

I cannot pretend they haven’t had moments of extreme weakness and obviously are lacking majorly on confidence. When you add the inclusion of a player who hasn’t been suffering all season and will almost definitely play finals football this year, it helps relieve some pressure.

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So, already in the 2019 season we know that Parramatta will have a strong, powerful winger back on their edge as well as the inclusion of two powerful forwards in Junior Paulo and Shaun Lane.

Those acquisitions alone are enough to prove that next season should be very different and if it isn’t then we have a serious problem.

Now, let’s discuss Brad Arthur.

A man who has found himself under a spotlight by his fans for just about the whole season. As soon as Parramatta started the losing streak at the beginning of the season fans began questioning his authenticity as a top grade coach.

It’s been a matter that has divided fans across the league but I truly believe he deserves to be given until the end of his contract to prove himself.

It’s a funny situation actually. His contact ends as soon as the 2019 season, however it may go, or come to a conclusion at the same time as Corey Norman’s.

I say, let them both see out their contracts then decide what to do from there. If Arthur is truly the super coach that so many have called him since he took over, he will fix whatever is happening between Moses and Norman.

Already he is resolving some of the critical matters through recruitment so give him the chance to fix the halves and give the halves the chance to be fixed.

Norman has played with the Eels for four seasons now and in two of those seasons he was one of the best players to pull the jersey on that year.

He didn’t suddenly wake up when the year ticked over from 2017 and turn into a bad player. Last season both he and Moses orchestrated their team beautifully – often creating big moments from nothing.

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They left the fans gobsmacked and clutching at the edge of their seats in excitement. It is safe to say that I can’t say the same for this year however, statistically he is not performing at a low level.

He leads the competition in forced drop outs with a whopping 18 and even has more try assists than the likes of James Maloney, Cody Walker, Blake Green and Anthony Milford with 11.

When you take away Ashley Taylor’s insane 16 try assists, the five-eighths exceeding his 11 are those in the top eight such as Gareth Widdop, Cameron Munster, Matt Moylan and Luke Keary with 14 and 13 respectively.

When you look at the statistics you would think Parramatta would be moving along quite nicely within the competition however, they’re still sitting nice and ugly at the bottom of the ladder. Then, when you combine Norman’s statistics with Moses’ it leaves you scratching your head even more.

The Parramatta Eels have themselves a problem however; the problem does not rely solely with the halves.

I do not in any way believe the hype that the two do not like each other and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they had slumber parties playing Fortnite and eating Doritos together.

However, they do have an ego clash on the field.

Replacing Norman with the likes of Blake Austin (as an example) however will not fix that.

Replacing Norman in attempts at solving the problems at the bottom of the ladder would be nothing but pure desperation – not very smart desperation too.

I am not an ostrich with my head buried under the sand completely oblivious to everything around me.

I know that there is a serious issue with multiple players at the Eels this season however I do not see the need to swing an axe and start chopping down the contracts of players – especially when they aren’t the only problem.

2019 will most definitely be a different season, one in which I sincerely hope will include Norman.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Brad Arthur should go, the sooner the better why wait for another spoon??? he was lucky to have Semi in the team and Semi was winning games single handed and that masked Arthur’s inept skills as an NRL coach.

    • I definitely do have a clue. I more than understand the perspectives that opposing however you haven’t offered what you disagree with. I’d be more than happy to further expand any of my beliefs or reasonings if you would like to explain further why you believe my opinion is dribble?

      • I apologise for calling your opinion dribble. It is your opinion and you are entitled to it.
        Still fuming over last nights pathetic SOO that was set up for a Maroon win to send Slater out a winner.

        Parra went well last year due to a few things.
        Semi Radradra.
        Semi got our sets underway with strong runs from the back and some absolutely brilliant solo tries.
        He scored 22 tries.
        What Semi offered the team was more than just the tries. What he could do in attack lifted the whole team.
        We lost Semi and bought in a player who is well past his best as a replacement.
        Our halves are definitely a problem.
        They are both 5/8 who want to be controlling halfbacks and neither of them are up to the task.
        Another reason for our solid year last year was we had a very easy draw.
        This year we don’t have Semi, we have two 5/8 who want to control the team but neither of them can and we have a pretty ordinary draw.
        Now to Brad Arthur.
        Don’t get me wrong. I like the bloke but he is a very one dimensional coach.
        He tries something and when it doesn’t work he keeps trying the same thing in the hope it will suddenly work.
        A smart coach would realise what he is doing isn’t working and change it up.
        He also doesn’t hold his players accountable for their poor performances. He gives them chance after chance and very rarely drops them for said poor performances.
        He also won’t bring in young players from reserve grade and instead brings in over the hill players from other teams.
        We lose a lot of our up and coming talent to other clubs because they know they won’t get a shot at first grade at Parra.
        This is also another reason why quite a few of the teams we get our juniors from have now aligned themselves with other clubs.
        As for our new recruits for next year, the only one to be applauded there is Ferguson as he is a quality winger with a fair bit of size about him.
        Jr Paulo is overweight and overrated and Shaun Lane is one knee injury away from early retirement.
        Parra needs a clean out from top to bottom.
        There are at least 9 or 10 players from our top 30 that need to go and our entire coaching staff needs a major overhaul including a new coach.
        I love Brad Arthurs passion for the Eels but skill and talent far out way passion.
        We are going to need at least 5 or 6 years of cleaning out and rebuilding to get Parra where they need to be.
        How the Panthers have done it should be our blueprint to success.
        We also need changes in our front office.
        For our CEO to not hire a head of football and give himself that title is just ridiculous.
        Add to that he hired a AFL strength and conditioning coach instead of a rugby league one.
        There is a world of difference between what a AFL coach and a NRL coach can do with a team.
        You can see how quickly we tire out there and how lean our boys look.
        They are league players not AFL players and their strength and conditioning coach should be from the same game as them.
        Based on the signings we have made and the average coaching staff we have I see us finishing in the bottom 3 again next year.

        • kev, you do know the afl trainer and conditioner is long gone? bit over a month now..the wheels are turning albeit slower than most want.

  2. I always thought that the mastermind behind Moses’ game management was Jeff Robson giving him advice from reserve grade. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the moment he retires, Moses and Norman lose their flair. Moses (who’s still only 23) strikes me as the sort of guy who needs the guidance of a more experienced half, and Corey Norman is not it. Either buy a experienced half for Wentworthville or hire a retired half to be part of the coaching staff.

    • Yeah, Norman should fit in well with the rest of the druggies and upstanding citizens at the sharks.

    • thebatman, are you suggesting with your “clean sweep. toxic culture” comment that the “toxic culture” should be the outcome from a “clean sweep”, because if you are there are some serious hurdles in our way?

      For example, we sacked our board members that were involved in the salary cap breaches, and the only other directors of that calibre are still employed, albeit on annual leave this year. Hastings is now contracted, DCE is contracted to age pension age, rookie hookers are making more in their “acting” careers, so it’s tough to build a toxtic team with such strong competition.

      • Dce the origin half back? How many eels played origin? Your culture stinks thats why you will get another spoon. So what if the kid made a video grow some nuts pal

        • We had none, as we are coming last… no one is saying anything otherwise so what exactly is the point of your comment.

          Seriously mate, are you ever going to post anything of value on this site that adds to a story, or does your sad little existence only get joy in banging on about the same things over and over and over……

  3. What is wrong with you people. Clearly not parra fans possibly not even league fans as you have no clue. BA rescued Parra. We were souless before him. Most games we didnt turn up. You could tell at the ground during the warm up that the players weren’t there to play. We have been poor this year but even the great coaches have poor years. Changing coaches less than year after he was voted the best coach in the game would do nothing but unstablise the club. Maybe thats what you the ‘fans’ want.

    • I’m not saying I disagree but fans won’t accept that nobody is to blame. It’s the same squad and the same coach. Moses, Norman and Arthur are the people with the most perceived responsibility.
      One of those three need to be the scapegoat until the actual reason comes out. Unfortunate as it may be, it’s still nearly impossible to avoid.

    • For the most part I agree. I’m still backing BA as the man to get us out of this, as opposed to him being the cause, or any part thereof.
      That said, this is a talented group of players, when looking at each them individually, and from a macro perspective our biggest weakness is/should be an “average” (average by size, at a FG level, and to some degree similar playing style) forward pack. I’m not being particuarly critical of our forward pack, but at the same time am mindful it’s not the strongest, collectively in the comp.
      So the way I see it, the team is not functioning as a team. We have a weak link/s and that’s what needs to be fixed ASAP. I don’t know if that’s coaching, but as per above I doubt it and wouldn’t be starting there, or 1, 2 or a handful of players that are causing the dismarmony.
      I think, and I’m happy for the author of this article to correct me if I’m off track, but in a nutshell that’s what they’re up imately eluding to. Don’t try and blame a man based on form, certainly not form alone, but we need everyone working together.

      • You say the team is not functioning as a team. Isn’t it the coaches responsibility to have them functioning as a team?
        Five years we have had BA as the coach and we have made the finals once and collected a wooden spoon (i know we haven’t got it yet but it is as good as ours).
        I am sick of mediocrity.
        Would Bennett put up with players not putting in? NO
        Would Bellamy put up with players not putting in? NO
        Would either of them put up with a dysfunctional team? NO
        They would make changes and force those not putting in to pull there fingers out in the lower grades and earn their spots back in 1st grade.
        Like I said I like BA but he hasn’t proven that he is a top notch coach.
        A good man manager but not a great coach.

        • Kev, all very valid points, and I can’t back my argument with actual facts / stats.
          We (Parra) have underperformed for decades, and this year for me has been our worst. I think it’s been our worst because I was confident that we had turned that corner and had a team that was genuinely building.
          So I’m as disappointed as you, and can’t believe we are at the “but next year” stage again, especially when this year, in part because I still can’t fully understand why we’re where we are, that I don’t see the light at th end of the tunnel.
          That said, is it BA and/or the coaching staff? The way I see it you can’t doubt BA’s passion for the club, nor can you doubt the man, so maybe he isn’t a genuine FG coach, MAYBE, but I think he is, and I think we (as supporters) need to back him (pay back some of that support he has given our club). BA got us through our worst year, we need to back him through this one, and at the end of the day we all win.

        • You guys had an easy draw plus the refs got you over the line more than once ie the dogs game penalty in extra time bs. Playing storm during origin lol BA is a bush coach he was a ok assistant at manly but toovs flicked him for good reason bOchOc likes him though 🙂

      • mighty – you echo my thoughts and I still give BA the benefit of the doubt moving into 2019. If things start in 2019 the way they have gone in 2018, then move him on – no ifs, no buts, time for a change of direction. A coach can’t go from being one of the best in the business over two seasons, to being the worst in half a season.
        One failing I feel he has had this year, he failed to interpret the changes that have occurred in the game from the start of the season as well as other coaches have, Paul Green being another who totally misread how the game had changed and once the rot sets in, its hard to dispel it. Eels and Cows season 2018 have essentially run the same patterns – beaten grand finalists to 3rd last on the table, what gives?
        Whilst the number of competition points has been a disaster, and apart from one game, its not like they are being flogged every week. Most games there has been 4-6 points in it, 2 points not taken here and there, one try bombed. That tells me that the team is not a total disaster, but some changes to the manpower can change the results. Recruitment of Paulo, Fergo and, to a lesser extent, Lane will go some way towards arresting the issues. But there is still need for a better #9 (hopefully Mahoney comes through), middle forward or two and another edge forward.
        Those that moan that changes haven’t been made to the top team obviously cant see below and that Wenty has really struggled for most of the season and no-one has demanded to be picked apart from Niukore, Gower and Mahoney.
        Matagi, Vave and King have been major disappointments.
        “Theres always next year”

        • The question must be asked now though, in hindsight, was BA in fact one of the best coaches last year, or did he benefit greatly from the likes of having Semi, and easier draw leading into the finals etc. The fact that he has not read the changes in the game is of great concern. Not necessarily for missing it to start the year, but to still be missing it now. We still play garbage one off the ruck plays, and if we do go any wider than that all we do is throw an inside ball to Gower/Brown/Alvaro, which is highly telegraphed and creates zero decision making problems for the defence. Our game plan has not been adjusted all season, even though everyone can see that it is not working, and that is a major worry. Whilst I agree that , with Wenty also struggling, there are not many options to promote players, but there seems to be very little accountability, especially when he sits in press conferences saying there will be changes, but only in fact makes them through necessity (injury, suspension).

          I have been a fan of BA, and as I said below, I applaud and thank him for what he did for us during the cap saga, but that can only stretch so far, and my patience with him has all but gone. He has been here for 5 years now, it is time for change.

        • I don’t disagree with the assertions you have made and agree that this future is on thin ice. I;m uncertain as to whether he is a good coach or not based on this years efforts alone but when we look back to 2014, 2015 and 2016 there were certainly major issues at play that impacted on the results. Its not excuses or being a unicorn, its plain facts.
          When you look at coaches ability in isolation, does everyone say that Trent Robinson was a poor coach in 2016 when the Roosters went from finalists to 2nd last? What about Paul Green, grand finalist 2017, 3rd last 2018.
          I’m not saying that BA is in their league but think he deserves the benefit of the doubt for some part of 2019 due to what he went through and achieved in recent years.
          The roster definitely needs revitalisation and it seems that is progressing.

        • “unicorn” lol… Gee that term gives me the sh!ts on the other site…..

          I get what you are saying, and if BA does stay, I hope he gets more support in the football department and is able to turn things around. I guess I am just at my wits end and the only thing I can see helping us is change. 5 years is a good go at it, and I just think he may not be able to improve the roster we have anymore.

        • hahaha – thought I would throw that in for you, knowing you visit it from time to time.
          unicorns v’s realists – its a fun game they play over there.
          not sure if realists is the right term for those who call themselves that – more like whingers, sooks, deathriders and dopes lol

        • you did it again…. dopes… lol

          Yeah I don’t think realists is the right word. I think a realist sits somewhere in between those two “factions”

        • hahaha – on a serious note, should BA depart next year, I don’t believe there are any real serious contenders out there for the job that, as a supporter, I would feel would offer more moving forward and long term.
          Madge has been mentioned but I feel he has a limited shelf life, much like Stuart.
          Des – no thanks, unless we want 1 year of success and 10 more years of misery
          . Who else is out there that would live up to expectations?

        • I think an established coach may be required, and Madge probably is the man. Yes, he has a short shelf life, as was evident in his stint at the Rabbitohs, but in the short term he might be what is needed. Then the key will be to get a good assistant under him, a bit of succession planning, which we don’t seem to be very good at. I was disappointed that we let Luke Burt go, he may have been worth investing in.

  4. I think parramatta need to start all over again. BA hasn’t done anything with the team, he’s recruited no one since he’s been there signs idiots like Kane Evans, has let a lot of juniors go over the years and kept overhill players like Scott, Gower, watmough
    He was always looking for a short term fix it has back fired on him now he has a mess on he’s hands..
    I’d be looking for another coach for next year..
    Maybe Michael Maguire could be the best option at this point
    Parramatta needs a bigger forward pack and better dummy half and bigger outside backs here is what the side should look like

    1: C Gutherson ( captain)
    2: R Jennings ( big body in great form for Souths )
    3: M Jennings
    4: B Ferguson
    5: G Leleisiuao ( great Junior coming thru the ranks 100kg monster )
    6: C Norman
    7: M Moses
    8: Jr Paulo
    9: Seggy ( need him bad )
    10: M Taupau ( definitely what the eels need )
    11: M Mau
    12: N Brown
    13: D Klemmer ( would be a great addition)

    14: T Moeroa
    15: M Nuikore
    16: D Alvaro
    17: R Mahoney/ B French

    18: G Jennings
    19: B Takairangi
    20: K Pritchard
    21: P Terepo

    • I like the optimism Semi, but there is no way we are getting R Jennings, Seggy, Taupau and Klemmer, nor could we afford them.

      • I like the Maguire idea. Parra (or manly) should sign Madge as coach for a 2 year boot camp.
        His player welfare should be more of a priority but his intense, austere style of coaching would instill a more professional, self accountable culture in either club.
        He’s like a poor man’s Bellamy.

  5. I honestly don’t think BA should stay any longer. I am grateful for how he brought the boys through the salary cap dramas and really felt for him when the board left him to constantly front the media about it, but that sentiment can only last so long. For whatever reason he can not get the best out of the team any more. Yes, we overachieved last year and had an easier run into the finals, but we also pushed Melbourne right to the end of the semi and could have won that game. To go from that to last is not acceptable under any circumstances, with the only real loss to the team being Semi. Don’t get me wrong, he is a massive loss, and some games were won on his back leading into the finals last year, but his loss should not have been enough to drop to last.

    Sure, BA does not have a full football department behind him, but I don’t think that is enough to save him. As Kev said, he has now been here for 5 years and there is not a lot to show for it. There is also the stagnation in the development of players like Moeroa, who was touted as a future NSW player, but is now an average first grader at best, Bevan French, who has shown no development to becoming the long term fullback he was supposed to be. I thank BA for his services, but enough is enough and it is time to move him on I think.

    On the actual article, I tend to agree with keeping Norman, mainly because I really don’t see anyone else taking him, and I would like to see him under a new coach. Also, I don’t really see much on the market who are better than him.

  6. Gutherson tries hard no doubt. I still thought he looked to lack pace & line breaking ability at fullback , against the Knights.
    Not sure he’s Parramatta’s future in that position.

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