Arthur: Our priorities haven't changed

Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur says his side’s priorities haven’t changed despite heated media speculation around halfback Kieran Foran in the lead up to the Blue and Gold’s Round 11 clash with the Melbourne Storm. 

Foran will captain the Eels against Melbourne on Monday night at PIrtek Stadium, after spending three weeks in Queensland receiving medical treatment for personal issues. 

“He’s in a real good headspace,” Arthur said of his number 7.

“He trained well on Friday, and he’s looking forward to playing some football. I think he feels like he owes his teammates a big performance; if [players] miss a game, they feel like, ‘right-o, I need to aim up for my teammates’. It’s just like someone missing a game through suspension or injury.”

Arthur refused to be drawn on allegations made about Foran in the Sydney press, but said the Blue and Gold Captain had been maintaining his rugby league training schedule in Queensland over the past three weeks.

“I just think a little bit of privacy would go a long way,” Arthur said.

“The time’s come where the players’ personal lives have got to be kept out of the media. They’re footballers, but they’re people.

“I’m not going to discuss Kieran’s private life; that information is supposed to be strictly confidential as far as I’m concerned.”

“We’ve had a trainer do some work with him up there, and he’s virtually followed the same training that we’ve followed here for the boys. We’ve had someone do a bit of work with him with a bit of wrestling, he’s been to the Brisbane Lions doing a bit of kicking, the only part of his preparation that he’s missed out on is some video work and some skill development.”

“He came back on Friday a little bit rusty with a few things, but i’m sure another session today and he’ll be good for tomorrow. I haven’t seen him this strong mentally for a while.”

“It just shows that while he’s been away he’s been getting some really good help cause he handled it really well (the media coverage this week).”

“And I’m sure at some stage he’ll be happy to give his story cause that’s a way of him being able to help others.”

For Arthur, the questions surrounding players’ personal lives and the club’s salary cap breaches have become almost routine in the 2016 season, but the Head Coach says he’s more concerned with the NRL match ahead. 

“This is just another drama in the soap opera for us,” Arthur said.

“It’s not an excuse for us, and we’ll never let it be that. That’s my job, to make sure that the only thing we focus on is football.”

“We’re playing a very good team tomorrow night. We need to focus on our defence.” 

“If you have a look at all the key stat areas Melbourne are on top in all those areas. They do all the simple things really well, complete, make their tackles, kick the ball long, and that’s a really big test for us.”

“The players are staying strong, I’ve got a really good coaching staff, they’re staying strong, and we’ll come out the other side.”

“[The fans] have just got to stay strong, too. What better way to start tomorrow night than with a really good performance?”

The Eels kick off against the Melbourne Storm at 7pm on Monday, May 23, at Pirtek Stadium. Click through for all the game day information.