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Trent Barrett Press Conference, Parramatta Eels, Brad Arthur Sacked, Silence Broken, Blaize Talagi, Defense, Clint Gutherson, Mitchell Moses, News, Trades

Eels interim coach Trent Barrett has broken his silence following the shock sacking of Brad Arthur, revealing the entire group of players and staff were “disappointed” with their 2024 campaign.

Parramatta currently sit in 14th place, and the club’s powers-that-be made the decision to terminate Arthur’s contract immediately on Monday following a 48-16 loss to the Storm.

Barrett, who was previously head coach of the Sea Eagles and Bulldogs, took over for the remainder of the season and was in front of the media for the first time on Friday.

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“The first few days took us a little getting used to and we’ve had a pretty busy week, but our main objective is tomorrow against the South,” he told reporters.

“The first thing, you know, what we say is private between the players. But even though we don’t feel great about the end of the week, we still have work to do.

“I guess that’s the message we give to the players, we’re all professionals and, as unfortunate as it is, we owe it to the club and the fans to go out and perform well tomorrow night.”

Barrett’s previous head coaching roles have been far from easy as he resigned from his role at Manly and was sacked by powerbrokers Canterbury-Bankstown.

However, he now has a great opportunity to once again showcase his coaching credentials and believes the lessons he has learned will serve him well.

“Certainly a ton from the previous jobs and I’ve certainly learned a ton since I’ve been here for the last 18 months,” Barrett said.

“There are bits and pieces that you learn and things that I would certainly do differently. “I’m excited about the challenge for the rest of the year, but just baby steps.”

Barrett was asked how the playing group were feeling after their head coach was sacked, however the former Sea Eagles boss explained that it wasn’t just the players who were feeling down.

“It wasn’t just the players, everyone was disappointed,” he said.

“Everyone was disappointed. We have all worked very hard and Brad is a fantastic coach and I am sure we will see him again soon in another role.

“But like I said, with the utmost respect we must move forward and win tomorrow. “That’s the only thing we can really control.”

While the Eels have only been able to beat the Bulldogs, Sea Eagles and Cowboys this season, Barrett is still confident he can take Parramatta to the finals.

“We are two wins from eight, I think this week will be a real challenge and we have some players eliminated,” he said.

PENRITH, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 15: Eels assistant coach Trent Barrett watches during the second round NRL match between Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels at BlueBet Stadium on March 15, 2024 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“There are a few players who will return next week against the Sharks. There is something positive about the season and a lot of football to be played.

“We reach an Origin period in which some of the results change and we also have a break. So the next five weeks are a really important block for us.

“But the semi-finals are still a goal for us.”

The Eels are set to welcome star duo Clint Gutherson and Mitchell Moses in Round 14, who have been sidelined due to their respective knee and foot injuries.

Aside from the return of that pairing, Barrett indicated that he is ready to change the team in the coming weeks.

“We’ll wait and see, having Mitchell (Moses) and Gutho (Gutherson) out right now has tested our depth a little bit,” he said.

“We also miss his experience, but we have good players to fill his shoes. But we may do some things differently over the course of the next few months.

“But this was not the week to do it. It has been a tough week, but I am sure that tomorrow night we will see a committed team.”

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One of those changes could be a position change for Gutherson, who previously played in the centers at representative level.

That would allow youngster Blaize Talagi to remain at full-back, with the 19-year-old being the Eels’ best player in the last two games.

The teenager also turned down his contract option to stay at Parramatta for the 2025 season, with the Dragons reportedly interested in signing the prodigious talent.

Barrett was asked if he would consider keeping Talagi in the No. 1 jersey, explaining that the Eels are a “better” team with both players in the No. 17.

“We will cross that bridge when the time comes, but Blaize has done a great job and is a good young player and we would certainly like to see him here long term,” he said.

“That’s something I know the club is working very hard on, he’s a local youngster and a great guy, but Gutherson is our captain.

“In the future, you’d like to see us both fit into our team and we’ll be a better team with both of them there, but that’s not something I need to worry about today.”

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