The western Sydney club have been ruthless when it comes to churning through coaches over the years. They even speared Daniel Anderson after he had guided them to the 2009 grand final.
Arthur’s latest contract will take him through to eight seasons, making him the second-longest serving coach in Eels history. Only Brian Smith has coached longer with ten seasons, including a grand final.
It is frightening when you think a club like Melbourne has enjoyed long-term stability with Arthur’s one-time mentor Craig Bellamy since 2003.
With Arthur locked away, uncertainty still remains out west with so many players off contract, including skipper Clint Gutherson.
Arthur was not prepared to get drawn into the on-going debate about Gutherson, nor the supposed deadline put in place at the end of the week for Gutherson to take or leave a three-year deal.
“I’m not going to talk about Gutho. I want him to sign, but that’s all I’ll say,” Arthur said.
Despite the 64-10 clubbing from the Storm on the weekend, Parramatta have started the year fairly well, especially their come-from-behind win against St George Illawarra last Sunday week, and the gritty defensive display against Penrith in round one.
Arthur was always confident he would land a new deal, and the club had relayed the same message.
“They told me all the way through they thought I was the man to take them forward, they were always transparent about that,” he said. “The results weren’t good enough last year, but I always had the support of the club and knew they believed they had the right person. “But I’m also a realist and know fans deserve better than what happened last year. Rugby league is a results-driven business. We had to show signs of improvement, which we have.”
Arthur knows Parramatta fans have suffered more than they have celebrated the past three decades.
You have to wonder if he has the current playing group to end the drought. Like most other coaches in the NRL, Arthur accepts right now there is a huge gap between South Sydney, the Sydney Roosters, Melbourne and the rest.
“We just need to bridge the gap between our best and worst performances, our good and our bad,” Arthur said. “Sometimes that’s experience, but it’s not an excuse.
“Nobody likes losing like we did on Saturday. You can handle defeat if you have a go. Melbourne are a very good team and they outclassed us. We didn’t put up a fight. That’s not good enough. The boys came in on Monday and they were hurting. We can turn it around. There’s our pride.”
Arthur said one of the big lessons he had learned since an NRL coach was man management, something you’ll often hear Roosters and Souths players discuss.
“You’re not just a football coach, you have to learn some blokes respond differently,” Arthur said. “Some can cop a spray, some need a cuddle, and it’s hard to get the tight call all the time. I’ve also learned to back my instincts. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but most times I’ve looked back on those mistakes I’ve thought to myself I should have gone with my gut.”
Parramatta officials finally went with their gut by locking down Arthur.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.