The Gold Coast Bulletin

Desperate Eels upgrade Arthur’s contract for NRL debut


JAKOB Arthur has been cleared to make his NRL debut this weekend despite a late drama threatenin­g to block his appearance for Parramatta.

The Eels were forced to upgrade the young playmaker’s deal to a top-30 NRL contract less than 24 hours after naming him at five-eighth to face the

New Zealand Warriors at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

The NRL had threatened to ban Brad Arthur’s son unless his contract status was upgraded within 48 hours.

The 18-year-old was on a developmen­t contract and could not have been used ahead of a top-30 player before Round 11 under NRL qualificat­ion rules.

That left the Eels desperatel­y trying to sort out a new contract on Wednesday. The terminatio­n of Michael Jennings’ contract last week opened up a place in Parramatta’s top 30.

Under NRL rules, developmen­t players can be used only when there are no other options available. This was not the case at the Eels because Jordon Rankin or Bryce Cartwright could have been picked at five-eighth.

Parramatta general manager of football Mark O’Neill handled Arthur’s contract negotiatio­n and said he deserved his opportunit­y in first grade.

“Jake has ... has an incredibly calm demeanour and talented football brain,” he said.

“You would have to search a long way back to find another player with the same passion and determinat­ion to succeed.

“Jake has developed through our pathways program and is currently studying a Bachelor of Sports Coaching at university, which is important to ensure his life is balanced off-field so he can perform at his best on-field.”

Arthur cannot train with the team or be in contact with the players until the Eels arrive in Brisbane because he left the bubble last week to play NSW Cup.

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Jakob Arthur.

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