Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur says the “devastating” departure of hooker Nathan Peats leaves the Blue and Gold in the position to control how the rest of their 2016 season unfolds.

The Eels dummy-half was released by Parramatta on Wednesday night to sign with the Gold Coast Titans, in a move intended to make the club salary cap compliant ahead of Friday night’s clash with the South Sydney Rabbitohs. 

“As a coach and as a mate, we’re pretty devastated,” Arthur said.

“It was a tough conversation to have; He broke his neck playing for this club and played another 60 minutes with it. He’s shattered but he’s handled himself with all class. You grow pretty close to them, it’s not just a coach-player relationship, you become mates with them, you become a bit of a father figure.”

“At the end of the day, it’s not a decision that I wanted to make. Unfortunately, his number fits where it needs to be and you can try and move players that are contracted next year, and that becomes messy and you end up with them in your cap for the next couple of years.”

“Whether it’s Nathan or whoever, it’s a decision we don’t want to make. We lost Ryan Morgan a couple of weeks ago who’s been at our club for six years, so yeah its hard.”

“I’m not going to get any benefit out of resenting the situation, we’ve just got to deal with it.”

Peats met with Eels teammates on Thursday morning over coffee before attending a team meeting at training at Pirtek Stadium, as the side prepares for their Round 10 clash with South Sydney.

“We’ve just got to worry about our defence,” Arthur said ahead of the Friday night game.

“We’ve got to keep out defence column good, if we do that we give ourselves a chance. It’s been challenging for the last six weeks [for the team] and the boys have had numerous excuses, and they haven’t looked to find one, and I’m sure you’re not going to see one tomorrow,” Arthur said.

“We expect that we give out best performance, and if that’s good enough to beat Souths, then great. There’s no leniency and there are no short cuts. This can only make them stronger, all the stuff that we’ve gone though.”

“We’re very fortunate we’ve got a choice to make now: we can control what we get out of the rest of the season. There’s a lot of people in life that don’t have choices, and we’ve got a choice. We can’t be feeling sorry for ourselves.”

“I’m so grateful I’ve got a really supportive playing group and a really supportive staff. Everyone keeps saying I’ve done a good job holding the group together, they’ve done a good job holding themselves together, and my staff have been fantastic and really put a lot of time and effort into these boys and they need a lot of credit.”

As the side hit the field at Pirtek Stadium for their final training run of the week, Arthur said the support his players had received from Parramatta Members and fans had been touching.

“Our fans have been fantastic, they’ve been so supportive,” Arthur said.

“They’ve had just as many excuses as the playing group to walk away from this team and this club, and they haven’t. We probably need them more than ever right now.”