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"I'm so proud of them"

Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur says his side’s never-say-die attitude won’t be dented by a 22-18 loss to the Penrith Panthers in Round 19 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.

See the highlights from the Round 19 clash

The Blue and Gold were run down from a 18-6 lead by a determined Panthers outfit, in a game that saw the Eels’ lose Michael Jennings before halftime with a hamstring strain, Tim Mannah and Danny Wicks sent for head injury assessments, and outside back Clint Gutherson thrust into the role of five-eighth in place of Corey Norman.

For Arthur, the overwhelming response to the Blue and Gold’s defeat was pride.

“I’m so proud of them,” Arthur said.

“[They] didn’t give up. They kept fighting.”

“We’ve established the kind of footy we want to play, what we want to stand for, and we just spoke about it then. That’s who we are.”

“We’ve worked too hard to let that unfold and go the other way now. We’ve just got to keep fronting up, week in and week out.”

Built on tough sessions in the pre-season, and hardened through a year of off-field turmoil, Arthur says the bond in his playing group and staff has created a will to keep fighting, no matter how distant the prospect of finals football may be.

“The boys have got an attitude and mentality that they’ve worked way too hard to not respond this way,” Arthur said.

“We’ve got a lot of loyal fans and the boys want to turn up for their fans, but they [also] owe it to themselves to finish the year.”

“And you might tell me that we can’t make it, but we don’t think so.”

“We know we’ve got to win 7 games and if we can do that and end up in the positive for and against, we’re some chance. It’s only a real small bit of hope but we’re hanging onto it.”

Pushed on the issue of management at the club, the Blue and Gold coach was single-minded.

“I dunno what’s best for the club. What I do know is I’m very proud of this football team.”