Norman repays teammates in return from injury
After a players only meeting focused on building trust back up in a seemingly down and out Parramatta squad, Corey Norman did just that by putting off-field dramas and fitness concerns to one side in a drought breaking 20-14 win over North Queensland.
With the Eels on a five-game losing run, Norman was rated only a 30 per cent chance of returning from a foot injury at the start of the week - before getting himself right ahead of Saturday's clash in Darwin.
Errors and excellence flowed from the No.7s boot in the six point victory, with one cross-field kick supplying a crucial try to Jarryd Hayne, another two grubbers forcing repeat sets and two clearing punts sailing out on the full.
Norman's 2018 campaign has been a mixed one to date, much like his team.
He has been dogged from the outset by suggestions he will not see out his contract (currently until the end of 2019) at Parramatta, before an in-house $30,000 breach for drinking alcohol while on the club's injured list was made public last week.
Arthur has consistently denied the Eels are shopping Norman around - despite enquiries being made by other clubs, and lauded his playmaker's commitment to the cause amid numerous off-field distractions.
"We've moved on from (the breach notice) and he showed in his performance tonight how important it is to play for his teammates," Arthur said.
"He was blowing early there tonight because he wasn't able to get on the training paddock much with that foot injury, but he's worked extremely hard to make sure he could get on the field.
"It will likely be the same this week (ahead of Thursday's clash with South Sydney), we probably won't get a lot of training out of him. But we're going into a bye so he just needs to get on the field, give us another 80 minutes and we can rest him up a bit."
Captain and five-eighth Clint Gutherson was also glad to have Norman, "our main leader out there," revealing a players' only meeting had played a significant role in the breakthrough win over the Cowboys.
"We had a good a week at training as we always do and we just wanted to play for each other," Gutherson said, with the Eels having re-jigged their training schedule in their five-day trip to Darwin.
"We just wanted to get back to trusting each other and just playing for each other and the staff and just the whole club."