The Parramatta Eels can write off their 2023 chances if they lose to the Panthers next week
The Parramatta Eels are one loss away from reaching the point of no return, writes Brent Read, providing their round four opponents and greatest rivals with even more motivation.
Matterson is believed to be on a contract worth about $600,000 a season. At worst, the Eels will play 24 games. Let’s say Parramatta pay Matterson roughly $25,000 a game.
The fine - $4,000 - was a drop in the ocean. Parramatta are run by money men. Chair Sean McElduff was a banker. Chief executive Jim Sarantinos a former consultant and partner at finance company Ferrier Hodgson.
Surely they could see the folly in allowing Matterson to sit out three games rather than hand over what amounts to a rounding error for the back rower. If not them, then coach Brad Arthur should have had a word. Hindsight is 20-20 but sometimes that’s all we have got.
So Matterson will return but the bad news is that it won’t matter unless they fix up their defence. The Eels are conceding points for fun, a far cry from last season when they went all the way to the final weekend of the season.
They leaked another 34 points on Thursday night against Manly, the soft nature of some of the Sea Eagles’ tries suggesting Penrith could pile on the points yet again unless Parramatta can find some starch.
That job falls to Arthur, who had his contract extended by another year earlier this week despite the abject way they have started their year.
Arthur had some clauses in his contract that automatically triggered an extra year - he hadn’t met all of them but the club took a leap of faith anyway, pointing to Parramatta’s record over the past four years.
That period coincides with the completion of a review into their football department. Since then, Arthur has turned the Eels into perennial finalists and McElduff insisted he had done enough to warrant a new deal.
“The short story is we reckon he deserves it and if you think about it, if you don’t extend him, it gives rise to the continued speculation about him (Arthur),” McElduff said.
If you have that continued speculation, it gets even worse. You’re not making decisions based on two or three games, you are making it through a three or four year period.
“That is the rationale. We know it is bumpy at the moment but we are not making short term decisions.
“We did our footy review in 2018 and we have given him what we believe he needs to do his job properly.
“I think his performance over the last four years has been really good. We didn’t win last year but we got there.
“That’s my logic and my perspective. And that’s why he got what he got. He still has to perform and get results but he has some clear air to do that.”
That air will be a little less clearer unless Arthur can find a way to extract some revenge for last year’s grand final.