Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur says while discussion of refereeing has dominated the news in the lead up to Round 9, the Blue and Gold’s focus remains firmly on a competitive Bulldogs side. 

The Eels returned empty handed from Townsville in Round 8 after fighting back from 14-0 to take a 16-14 lead, after a sin-binning helped turn the Eels’ fortunes and saw the Cowboys snag a 32-16 win. 

Arthur says while he was unclear on the sin-binning immediately post-game, the incident was far from the sole cause of the final scoreline.

“It was a little bit disappointing we didn’t quite get to see where we’re at [playing out the game with 13 on the field],” Arthur said.

“We fought back to a 16-14 lead and It would have been nice to see if we had the resolve to push through and hang on or if we might have thrown the game away.”

“Looking at the replay, it’s a professional foul so they made the right decision. The obstruction, my personal opinion is that it wasn’t an obstruction but that’s (sic) the rules and we’ve got to follow them.”

“[Referees], they’re doing their job the best they can, and we’ve just got to worry about what we’ve got to do. All we can worry about is our performance, and I’m frustrated we only completed at 50% against a very good team in the Cowboys.”

Coming off the back of a nail biting 21-20 win over the Gold Coast Titans in Round 8, Arthur expects the Bulldogs to test the Eels again as the two teams meet for the second time this season in Round 9. 

“If you look at the last game, it was a really close contest,” Arthur said.

“I know if you look at the score it blew out, but it was about 8 minutes to go and that probably didn’t reflect the closeness of the game. It was a tough game, it was an arm wrestle and a real slog, I’m sure it’s going to be that sort of match again.”

“They’re probably not as happy as they want to be with their form but they’re in every game and they play every game for a full 80 minutes. They don’t give you much, and you’ve got to be at your best to take your opportunities against them.”

“[The Eels players] love playing the Dogs, and the Dogs really love playing Parramatta.”

Eels winger Semi Radradra and centre Michael Jennings have both been called into the 19-man Australian Kangaroos squad for next Friday’s Test against New Zealand, and Arthur says not having Beau Scott in the squad was no slight on the back-rower.

“We’re proud of Semi,” Arthur said.

“He’s worked really hard on his game and I’m just glad he’s rewarded for it.”

“I don’t think Australia’s short on quality back-rowers so it’s a real tough spot to get a run in [for Beau],” Arthur added. 

“I just had a chat to Beau this morning actually, and I’m really happy with the way he’s going. We knew what he was going to bring to the club, but I think he’s taken his game to another level for us and his leadership’s great.” 

“I probably wasn’t expecting to get as much out of him as we are, and it’s a credit to him. But we’ve got to look after him. Beau’s not one to wrap himself in cotton wool, he plays the game hard and he trains the same way.”

Eels club Captain Tim Mannah has been omitted from the Round 9 line up again as he recovers from a fractured shoulder blade, but the Blue and Gold Head Coach says he is close to making his return to the field.

“We’re going to try and run him today and see how he goes, but if he’s not right he won’t play,” Arthur said.

“It’d be silly to rush him back in if he’s not 100%, but you want your best players on the field and if he’s available I’ll be picking him.”

The Eels kick off against the Bulldogs at 7.50pm on Friday, April 29, at ANZ Stadium. Click through to purchase your tickets!