Parrmatta Eels coach Brad Arthur defends favouritism calls over son Jake

Jake Arthur is the teenage son of Eels coach Brad Arthur.. Picture: STUFF SPORTS

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur won’t be deterred from selecting his teenage son again despite being accused of nepotism in the bitter aftermath to last Saturday’s 35-4 NRL loss to North Queensland.

Angry fans took to social media to express their frustration, with 19-year-old Jake Arthur made the scapegoat for the heavy defeat in Darwin.

The young playmaker started at five-eighth, with Dylan Brown shunted to the centres as the Eels battled an injury crisis that reduced the squad to only 19 available players.

Even Eels legend Ray Price questioned the decision to remove Brown from the halves and pleaded with Arthur not to play his “inexperienced” son in the No.6 jumper again this season.

Arthur, though, remains adamant he made the right call, saying the backlash was inevitable.

“I did what every coach would do: pick your best 17 and then I put them in positions,” Arthur said on Thursday.

“It worked for us the week before. It didn’t work this week and it certainly wasn’t his fault.

“If we played the same way as the week before it’s a different story.”

The return of several players, including centre Tom Opacic from a neck injury, has allowed the Parramatta coach to reinstate Brown to the halves, with Jake Arthur named as 19th man for Friday night’s grudge match with Penrith.

“It will be good to have Tommy back and be able to put Dylan back to six,” Arthur said, adding the favouritism accusations from fans was “part of footy” for he and Jake.

“Look, it’s unfair. But it’s what it is. People are entitled to their opinion. I suppose it’s always harder when it’s your own flesh and blood,” Arthur said.

“But he (Jake) is fine. He doesn’t do social media so he didn’t know a hell of a lot what was going on until he got some nice messages from people just checking to see if he was okay.

“He was asking on Monday night what all the commotion was around and I sort of told him and, yeah, just moved on.”

Arthur said the most important thing for his son was to remain confident in his ability in case he’s called up again to first grade.

“He’s still a valuable member of our squad and, if something was to happen in the halves, he gets an opportunity,” he said.

Jake Arthur is off contract at season’s end but his father said it was premature to speculate on his long-term future at the club.
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary agreed the criticism was unfair and uncalled for, having also endured a tough first year coaching son Nathan.

“I don’t think it’s nice for anyone to get that kind of treatment,” Cleary said.

“We’re in similar positions. A few years ago Nathan and I had our moments. I’m sure we still get it now.

“But that’s what you put your hand up for in this situation, and it’s some of the things you try to work out when you decide if you’ll coach your son or not.”

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