AAP Rugby

Eels must bleed for blue and gold: Arthur

By AAP Newswire

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has issued a call to arms, declaring he needs players willing to bleed for the blue and gold.

After painful months soul-searching following their wooden-spoon 2018 NRL season, the Eels are attempting to turn over a new leaf.

Part of coach Arthur's plan was on show at their Old Saleyards Reserve base on Saturday morning as 150 players from across all four men's grades and their women's under-18s united in a unique pre-season training session.

Stars like Blake Ferguson, Mitchell Moses, Corey Norman and Tim Mannah trained shoulder-to-shoulder with junior players, going through speed and skill drills and draining time trials.

From Arthur's perspective, the purpose was twofold.

Firstly, the Eels have identified the need to become a development club - an issue pinpointed in their football department review.

They believe if they can do that, players who come up through the grades will have an affinity with the jersey and that will eventually pay dividends in their NRL results.

Secondly, Arthur admits the side lost their sense of camaraderie and mateship last year.

"We talked about what was important for us and what we needed to do, having players that want to bleed for the jersey was important," he siad.

Arthur frankly admitted the side was inspired in season 2017 - during which they finished fourth - after going through the pain of their 2016 salary cap scandal.

And now he says they're being spurred on by their embarrassing 2018 performance.

"I've talked about becoming tighter as a group," Arthur said.

"In '17 we were really tight; we had external things driving us to be tighter.

"Maybe last year we thought it was just going to happen and we didn't work hard enough on being that tight group.

"This year we've got a big motivation driving us. The buy-in around being better around our relationships and knowing each other better has been a good start."

Back-rower Tepai Moeroa says the players were stung after management presented them with the results of the club's top-to-toe review, describing it as hard to take.

"To be honest, we knew it was coming but it just made it real," Moeroa said.

"When it came out and they said, 'this is what we've found', it really hit home that we were rubbish. Everything we were doing was rubbish and not good enough. We came last."