The Parramatta Eels Club has today released the findings of its Football Department review, conducted by independent consultant Shane McCurry.

The scope of the review which was overseen by the Board was to examine all aspects of our Football Department including:

• Culture, Governance & Leadership.
• Player Program & Support
• Football Operations & Compliance.
• Coaching (NRL & Pathways).
• Structure & Resourcing.
• Recruitment & Roster Management.
• Retention & Development.
• Wellbeing (Welfare) & Education.
• High Performance, Medical, Conditioning & Sports Science.
• Facilities & Infrastructure.
• Junior/Representative Programs.
• Staff Development.

The process involved over 160 interviews with a broad cross section of our Football Club including coaches, players, staff, senior management and the Board as well as former coaches, players and administrators.

In the interests of understanding the characteristics of high performing sporting environments across a range of professional sports, additional administrators, coaches, CEOs, General Managers of Football and past players were also interviewed.

Parramatta Eels Club CEO Bernie Gurr said the review had been a thorough and extensive process and provides us with a roadmap to help drive sustained performance going forward.

"Our entire Club was disappointed for our Members and fans in 2018, and we realised that we needed to re-assess how we were doing things.

"The broader purpose and rationale for conducting this project was to assess ourselves against best practise sporting organisations to ensure that going forward, the Club has appropriate personnel, systems, resources, processes and structures in place to deliver sustainable on-field success at the NRL level.

"We are committed to delivering success for our Members and fans and we believe the review and the recommendations out of the review give us the best opportunity to do that," said Bernie Gurr.

The review identified a number of areas of improvement as well as a number of areas where we are doing well.

The major recommendations which the Board has endorsed include:

• Investment:
An increased investment in the Football Department to ensure additional resources are placed into the coaching and development of our playing group at both NRL and Junior Representative levels.

• Cultural Foundations:
As part of our Strategic Plan, we are undertaking a review of the Club's Cultural Foundations. This important piece of work will be facilitated by Shane McCurry and will involve all staff and players in the Club.

• Development System:
A confirmation that the Parramatta Eels is a Development Club; with a large and thriving Parramatta Junior League and a good Junior Representative Program, our Club has ambitions to develop elite, young players through to our NRL squad. 

To ensure we have the optimum pathways system, we have made the decision to have our own Parramatta branded ISP / 2nd Grade team in 2020; we have the 2019 season to run in our joint venture with the Wentworthville Magpies and we certainly value this relationship.

Our Junior Representative Program (Under 20's, Under 18's, Under 16's, Tarsha Gale Girls, Academies) will also be provided with a full-time Coaching Coordinator to ensure a consistency of football philosophy across the entire Club.

• NRL:
 - Additional specialist coaching resources will be engaged
 - Expanded High Performance Unit
 - Expanded leadership program facilitated by an external third party for coaches and players.

• General Manager of Football:
The Club has appointed Mark O'Neill as General Manager of Football to assume management responsibilities of the Football Department. This appointment will enable our Head Coach, Brad Arthur, to focus on coaching and to provide an experienced resource to help develop and execute a best-practice, high performance football strategy.

• Recruitment:
We will restructure our Recruitment Department and commence a search for a new Head of Recruitment. We will establish a Player Roster Management Committee in order to develop a more sophisticated approach to player roster management for both our NRL & Development squads. A further analysis will be conducted by the General Manager of Football into the List Management operations. Peter Sharp will remain a valuable member of our recruitment team.

• Wellbeing & Education:
In an NRL first, we will appoint a full-time resource dedicated to our large Pasifika & Indigenous playing groups in the Parramatta District & broader Rugby League community. Additionally, we will create a new role responsible for NRL Player Welfare, Safety and Integrity.

• Facilities and Infrastructure:
We are working on plans to upgrade our existing facilities at the Old Saleyards. Over the longer term and as part of our new Strategic Plan, the Club will establish a project team focused on delivering our longer term vision for a Centre of Excellence for our playing, coaching and office staff in five years.

The above recommendations will now form part of a performance framework that will be reviewed, modified and challenged on an ongoing basis to ensure we provide an elite performance environment for our players, coaches and staff.