Brad Arthur set to stay as Parramatta Eels set deadline for Clint Gutherson


Gutherson has been linked with Manly. He still resides on the northern beaches, remains friends with several Manly players including the Trbojevic brothers and has already been discussed as a future Sea Eagles five-eighth alongside Daly Cherry-Evans.

While the 24-year-old now has four days to decide whether to take up the Eels’ deal, Parramatta officials will meet with Arthur again thsi week to thrash out some of the final details of a new contract for the coach.

The Eels are intent on locking Arthur down and should he extend his stay only Brian Smith will have coached longer at the club. As it stands Arthur is the only current coach in the NRL without a deal beyond this season.

The Eels announced on Monday the club had secured $15 million in federal government funding towards their new $40 million community rugby league facility in Kellyville.

But the big talking point was whether Arthur would stick around long enough to enjoy the new digs. Players are expected to commence pre-season training in November at the new site as the club looks to cut short their lease at their temporary home in North Parramatta.

Arthur remained tight-lipped as Parramatta chief executive Bernie Gurr maintained the importance of giving the coach every chance to shine.

Gurr also told the Herald he wanted Gutherson and Mitchell Moses to remain at the club.

He said the 64-10 pounding against Melbourne would have no bearing on Arthur’s power to negotiate.

“We ran 16th last year. But we needed to give the coaches and assistant coaches and players a representative sample size of games to tell us where we are at,” Gurr said.

“That wasn’t going to be four games. We’re now up to nine games, so we’re nudging closer to that representative sample size of games where they can show where they’ve come from.”

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As for Gutherson and Moses, Gurr said: “A key point is we want them here, they know that and we’ve told them.

“[A fourth year for Gutherson] is all part of the negotiation. That’s why they call it a negotiation. But we won’t discuss terms, whether it’s the length of tenure or dollars. We won’t talk about it publicly.”

It was reported on the weekend Penrith’s Dallin Watene-Zelezniak could be headed to Parramatta – and before the June 30 deadline if both parties could reach an agreement. Watene-Zelezniak was viewed as a right centre by the Eels but has spent the bulk of his career on the wing and in Gutherson’s No.1 role.

Parramatta club captain Tim Mannah, who is hoping to negotiate his own extension without a manager, said Arthur was worthy of a new deal because of the way he had kept the club together through some turbulent and taxing times.

“He’s definitely been the backbone for the club now the last five or six years,” Mannah said.

“He held the club together through the tough times when administratively we didn’t have a great team. Brad didn’t have a lot of support, including a head of football. To get through that period the way he did says a lot about him and what he can do.”

Mannah said Arthur had been “firm” at half-time as the Eels were blown away by the Storm and the players had responded well at training on Monday.

The Eels were excited by their new training complex, which is $18 million more expensive than their western Sydney rivals Panthers’ academy. It will feature four international-standard fields with the Eels and local Hills Shire Council finalising designs for the first stage of the project.

Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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