NRL Finals 2022: Eels coach Brad Arthur slams ‘nepotism’ report leak, press conference, video, Parramatta defeat Canberra

Parramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur has lashed out at someone who’s “got an agenda” after a report leaked on the eve of the match against the Raiders.

The Eels dominated the Raiders in a crushing 40-4 win to book the club’s first preliminary final berth since 2009.

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But when asked about the report which leaked out via Fox League on Thursday, which allegedly pointed to “nepotism” in the appointment of staff and players, Arthur had some strong comments.

“I think we showed how affected the group was,” Arthur said during the press conference. “Someone’s got an agenda and they’re not going to break us.”

Asked if he felt there was an agenda against the Eels, Arthur replied: “There’s some personal interest, so whoever’s got the agenda, they’re not going to break this group, we’ve worked too hard.”

Eels skipper Clint Gutherson also said the side showed it wouldn’t be broken regardless of what was thrown at them, particularly off the back of a loss to the Panthers in week one of the finals.

“To be able to put that performance in after the last 24 hours, which I don’t even know where it came from, it was very pleasing,” Gutherson said.

Arthur said the report was not even touched on by the group as they produced arguably the performance of their season.

“We’ve dealt with plenty in the past, it was only a couple of years ago we had other dramas,” Arthur said. “We didn’t even address it, we didn’t even talk about it because it’s something we can’t control — and it’s rubbish — and the boys just wanted to go have fun and play with each other.”

Arthur said when he first stated coaching, he would have worried about the issue but in his ninth season as the Eels coach, he said it wasn’t a concern.

The report in question were the findings of an internal review conducted by former first-grade coach Nathan Brown, who was brought in by the club to review its Elite Pathways program.

When brought into the club, Eels general manager of football Mark O’Neill said the review was to ensure the Elite Pathways program would give local talent the best opportunity to progress through to the NRL.

The report which was presented to the Eels board on August 31 included findings such as:

— A perception of nepotism in the appointment of staff and players

— Better connection needed from NRL to Flegg and to Junior Reps

— Acknowledgment of all staff across all programs could be better

— Skill development of players could be better with the ‘Eels philosophy’

— Role clarity needs to be better communicated and the communication across all roles needs to be clearer.

There is no suggestion the claim of nepotism in the briefing document has any relation to current Parramatta coach Brad Arthur or his son Jakob.

Speaking after the press conference, Fox League’s Yvonne Sampson said it was “disappointing they even have to address that sort of thing after that performance”.

She added it was “hijacked” by the drama.

Cooper Cronk said: “That performance shows it’s a united club.”

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