“He still has the ear of the players and they respect him very much.”
This is the time the club needs to support the coach. Arthur knocked back offers to join other clubs, including a $1 million-per-season offer from Manly, to stay loyal and help the club emerge from the salary cap saga.
However, theres a feeling out west that he has too much on his plate. The football club is under pressure to cut costs after posting losses of $22 million over the past two years and it appears some corners have been cut. Members of last years coaching staff including Peter Gentle, Luke Burt and wrestling coach Brett Bumper OFarrell havent been replaced. The blue and golds are also one of the clubs without a dedicated head of footy.
“Im currently doing it,” said Gurr. “It has worked reasonably well for the 15 months that Ive been here.
“Wed be remiss not to review the organisational structure of all our departments, including football, to make sure we are on the right track. You need to keep an open mind on these issues.”
Gurr said no corners were being cut in resourcing the playing and coaching staff.
“No, not at all. On the contrary,” Gurr said.
“Ive said to Brad in recent weeks if you need any assistance anywhere, let me know.
“If there is anything he needs within the football department, within reason, he will get it. Theres no financial pressure whatsoever on the football department.”
Other issues are festering. Junior development has been poor in recent years, with the majority of the clubs best young players now plying their trade for arch rivals Manly.
Its less clear whether the players have begun turning on each other during the losing streak. We can reveal that a member of the leadership group raised the fact that Brad Takairangi was having a drink while in the rehab ward. It turns out that a drinking ban applies only to those players with soft-tissue injuries, which didnt apply to Takairangi. Weve also heard that another senior player called for one of the halves to be dropped to Wenty, a suggestion that didnt go down well with some.
Its hoped the current barren run will inspire the navel gazing required to address the issues so that the Eels can go on a Swans-like run.
The Wayne Bennett-Nathan Brown stink? To get a fresh perspective, we decided to go to former Newcastle owner Nathan Tinkler. The former mining magnate was the man who lured Bennett to the Hunter, raising expectations of at least one premiership during the stint. However, the whole thing ended in tears, with Tinkler and Bennett leaving Brown to clean up the mess. When asked about the stink between Brown and Bennett, Tinkler offered via text: “Its all my fault dont u read the press? Sure they will both agree [with] that.”
Brown's not alone
Still on Bennett and it isnt just Brown that hes rubbed the wrong way. The seven-time premiership-winning coach had a massive crack at Cronullas professionalism over their treatment of Jack Birds shoulder problem. It wasnt lost on the Sharks that the Broncos let Matt Gillett play for a month with a broken neck.
Fittler's secret recipe
Brad Fittler still looks lean enough to take up on of those contentious NSW halves positions and now we can reveal why.
“Im vegan, I love it,” Fittler said. “Im enjoying it, youve got to show a lot of discipline. My energy has been really good, Im very surprised at the lack of food Ive been eating compared to when you have brekkie in the morning and then have lunch.
“I get up now, have a couple of drinks, add turmeric and that. Then go a smoothie. Im still sweet at 12, 1pm.”
Its been about almost two months since Fittler made the change, but it remains to be seen if he will persist once Origin camp begins.
“Well see,” he said. “I might fade away too much.”
Rabbitohs rake Damien Cook is in a good spot right now. When Robbie Farah came to the club, it looked like he would be on the outer. But now hes the starting hooker for Souths and also a big chance of being the Blues dummy half.
Hes also happy off the field. Cook is a regular at the races, alongside fiance Courtney Blaine, an executive assistant at Racing NSW.
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.
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