Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur says half Corey Norman will learn a tough lesson from his 8-week suspension by the NRL.
The Blue and Gold playmaker has also been fined $20,000, and Arthur says the punishment will help the “larrikin” grow as a player and person over the coming weeks.
“It’s the NRL’s decision and we’re supportive of it,” Arthur said.
“He’s been dealt a tough lesson but we have to move on from it and we’re here to help him through it. Our priority is helping Corey through this tough period, and his priority is helping his teammates prepare for the next seven weeks [without him].”
“He is a good person, he’s made silly decisions and he’ll learn from it. He’s remorseful. He’s good energy to have around the group and he genuinely cares about this team. What I want from our players is that they want to be here, and he wants to be here. He wants to be the best player he can be, he wants to be the best person he can be.”
“We’re here to promote good footballers, but we’re also here to make them better people. And that’s part of our job as a club, my job as a coach. I really like Corey, I’ve got a lot of time for him and we want him to be at our club long term.
The absence of the Eels playmaker sees Clint Gutherson join Jeff Robson in the halves for a second appearance, and Arthur said while his side may not have had the opportunity to build combinations in 2016, their commitment can’t be faulted.
“Since maybe round 7 or 8 we haven’t had two halves in the team,” Arthur admitted.
“We haven’t had the same edges on the left or the right since round 7 as well, so in terms of combinations it’s been difficult. But the players that have been put in there have stepped up and taken the responsibility to play their role and do their job and not let their teammates down.”
“It’s got nothing to do with me; it’s their mentality, their attitude, that they’ve got a job to do and accountability to their teammate.”
“Clint Gutherson’s got an oppourtunity [again this week]. Gutho’s a footballer, and he responded really well [to the challenge against the Panthers]. We gave him real simple plan, and he executed that plan. A couple of times he tried to overplay it a little bit but that was more through effort and energy than anything.”
“There’ll be a bit more pressure on him this week: the Titans know he’s playing there so they’ll be trying to isolate him a little bit.”
The Gold Coast Titans sit seventh on the NRL Premiership ladder, coming off a dominant 32-12 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 19, but Arthur says the key for his side is maintaining the standards they’ve set so far in the 2016 season.
“We’ve worked throughout the pre-season and we’ve worked really hard as a playing group to establish the kind of football we want to play,” Arthur said.
“Regardless of the situation, that’s what we need to focus on.”
“We’ve got really good staff, we’ve got a strong playing group, [and] all our young blokes have really stepped up and seen it as an opportunity for them to take some leadership.”
“I couldn’t be any prouder of them, but there's still seven weeks to go, and all the hard work that we’ve done can easily be undone, so it’s a really fine line.”
With centre Michael Jennings sidelined for approximately two weeks with a hamstring injury picked up against the Panthers, the Blue and Gold’s stocks of outside backs are looking thin, and Arthur has named Manu Ma’u to step into the centres again against the Gold Coast Titans.
Vai Toutai and Semi Radradra remain unavailable, but John Folau will make his return from a fractured wrist on the weekend for the Wentworthville Magpies.
“He’s been out for a while,” Arthur said.
“He just needs to get a run under his belt and hopefully he can get through 80 minutes and give a good account of himself, and maybe might be available for us for selection for the following week.”