Dyldam Parramatta Eels winger Semi Radradra has declined an opportunity from Head Coach Brad Arthur to stand down from Saturday night’s game against the Cronulla-Sharks, putting up his hand to play in the Round 17 match up.
Radradra was charged with assault by police early on Friday morning after returning from Fiji, and the club confirmed in a statement that it would offer the presumption of innocence to Radradra, as well as support to his partner and child while the charges proceeded.
But Arthur nonetheless offered his winger the option to miss Saturday night's game while he is the subject of intense media scrutiny and facing serious charges off the field.
Speaking before the Eels’ Captain’s Run, Arthur said he had not spoken with his winger since his return, and said he was eager to talk with Radradra before commenting on the charges against him.
“I don’t really know I don’t know a lot about it, it’s happened really quickly,” Arthur said.
“It’d be silly of me to make judgment or make a comment. The first process is we need to talk to Semi, see how he is.”
Arthur said that despite Radradra’s time away in Fiji over the past 12 days, the playing squad would welcome Radradra to the side for Saturday’s match up with the in-form Sharks. The Eels Coach was also confident that the Blue and Gold would be able to focus on the challenge ahead despite the breaking news about Semi Radradra.
“They would want him to play,” Arthur said.
“I gave him permission to go to Fiji; Michael Gordon, we gave him time to go away with his family last week [as well]. So every player is different and every case is different.”
“It’s happened overnight (the charges against Semi) and the players aren’t here yet, but they trained really well during the middle of the week and I’m sure they’ll train well today.”
“It hasn’t been easy sailing for us [this year]. I’m proud of them [the players], the coaching group’s proud of them, the way they’ve fronted up every week and put their distractions aside and really played with plenty of pride and passion.”
“We probably haven’t played our best football all year, and there’s some area of our game that we really need to work on, but a big focus for us was our defence. And I think that any of the games we’ve won this year has been on our defence.”
“My job is to coach a football team and I’m doing my best to try and do that. We’ll go there tomorrow night and we’ll have a red hot crack and I give us a very good chance.”
The Eels kick off against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at 7.30pm on Saturday, July 2, for the fourth annual Johnny Mannah Cup at Southern Cross Group Stadium.