PERTH, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 15: Mitch Moses of the Eels reacts after losing the first semi final against the Dragons during Day 2 of the 2020 NRL Nines at HBF Stadium on February 15, 2020 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 15: Mitch Moses of the Eels reacts after losing the first semi final against the Dragons during Day 2 of the 2020 NRL Nines at HBF Stadium on February 15, 2020 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

Why Eels coach loved Parra’s Nines pain

IT was a moment that captured the passion that will be driving Parramatta's premiership charge in 2020.

But while some have criticised the likes of Mitchell Moses for reacting like they'd just lost a grand final following their semi-final loss at the NRL Nines, Brad Arthur has defended his players.

Ahead of tonight's opening trial against South Sydney at Ringrose Park, Arthur addressed where he thinks the Eels are at heading into the new NRL season.

And while plenty are building them up to be one of the premiership heavyweights, Arthur didn't hide from where he knows the Eels must improve to consistently match the likes of the Sydney Roosters and Melbourne.

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Parramatta were the favourites to win the Nines. Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images.
Parramatta were the favourites to win the Nines. Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images.

But one thing Arthur won't criticise his players for is showing emotion.

"I like the fact that they were hurting," Arthur said.

"I don't want them being satisfied, that close enough is good enough.

"We wanted to treat the Nines serious.

"We knew we wanted to have fun, but that is also about performing well.

"We did a lot of good things. We showed a lot of good signs.

"But there is still some things that we have to get on top of."

And Arthur has also challenged his players to deliver on the promise that this is going to be a great year to be a Parra fan.

While this time last year Arthur was fighting to save his job, now plenty are saying the Eels go into this season with arguably the best team the club has assembled since their glory days of the 1980s.

But with that hope also comes huge expectation.

"We have to make sure it is," Arthur added.

"We have done all the work off the field and on the training paddock.

The Eels were gutted at their loss. Photo by Grant Trouville, NRL Photos.
The Eels were gutted at their loss. Photo by Grant Trouville, NRL Photos.

"Now we have to take it on the field. We have to build on last year."

Asked if it is the best he has coached, Arthur responded with optimistic caution: "It is hard to say but we are very happy with the squad we have got."

But rather that get caught up in the hype, Arthur identified exactly where the Eels need to improve.

He said there was no better example than the 32-0 finals capitulation against Melbourne that came a week after handing Brisbane a 58-0 hiding at Bankwest.

"There was a couple of those games and they were always on the back of a really strong performance," Arthur said.

"The way we started the next week was the way we finished the week before.

"We got to a comfortable lead and were actually looking good with the ball and playing a bit of footy and we had earned the right to put some points on late.

 

Arthur has lifted the tempo at Parramatta training this summer. Picture by Brett Costello.
Arthur has lifted the tempo at Parramatta training this summer. Picture by Brett Costello.

"But we just thought we could roll up the next week and thought it would be that again.

"We didn't go back to starting over from scratch and earning and building our base.

"We just have to be consistent, over long periods.

"Each team will have a struggle point throughout the year or in games.

"But our worst game was just too far off our best game last year. That was our problem.

"Whereas if Melbourne or the Roosters played a bad game and they might get beat, but it is not from one extreme to the other."

Arthur won't be playing the majority of his backline stars against the Rabbitohs tonight.

But there is a stack of forwards who will be on show including star recruit Reagan Campbell-Gillard.

Arthur revealed that the former Penrith prop has dropped 7kg over the summer.

Campbell-Gillard is a former Test and Origin prop. Picture by Brett Costello.
Campbell-Gillard is a former Test and Origin prop. Picture by Brett Costello.

But asked if he had concerns Campbell-Gillard was still a bit gun shy after coming back from two broken jaws, Arthur challenged his new enforcer: "Well, you know what, he has to go out on the field and get that part of it done.

"But all the indications are good.

"He hasn't missed a training session for us since right back to day one.

"He didn't come in late. He came in right when the young blokes did.

"He has had a massive pre-season. He has stripped himself down from 123 kilos and he is now around that 116 mark.

"So he is running really good. And he has brought a level of intensity to our contract sessions.

"All the signs for me are that he is ready to rip in. I haven't seen him hold back on anything."


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