Eels to appoint O'Neill as football general manager
Parramatta are set to appoint former Wests Tigers premiership winner Mark O'Neill as the club's general manager of football.
As part of the club's restructure of the football department, the appointment of O'Neill, who played 223 first-grade games, is expected to be announced next week.
The club's external review into the football department has highlighted a need for a role to oversee the club's rugby league program, with O'Neill to work hand in hand with Arthur to develop programs and strategies to ensure a sustained period of success at the Eels.
O'Neill was a standout in a list of more than 80 candidates, which was cut down to 16 before the club decided on the nine they would take through to the interview process.
The 43-year-old had five interviews plus as a 90-minute discussion with coach Brad Arthur to share their plans and vision for the future as well as an opportunity to build a solid foundation to their relationship.
It is understood the Eels are organising for Arthur and O'Neill to embark on a road trip together to form a close bond that will hopefully ensure they are on the same path despite being in roles that have often clashed at other sporting organisations.
O'Neill was the frontrunner for the job before the remaining candidates underwent behavioural and cognitive psychometric testing, and is understood to have gone even further in front following the examinations.
The Eels are well aware he was let go by the Wests Tigers in 2016 after an investigation into alleged misconduct while he was general manager.
However, chairman Sean McElduff spent two hours with him before the interview process to determine the values and characteristics of the former Tigers forward and left convinced he had learned from his mistake.
The character references the Eels used to gain an insight into O'Neill include Tigers chairwoman Marina Go and chief executive Justin Pascoe, NRL chief operating officer Nick Weeks, as well as Melbourne Storm football manager Frank Ponissi.
The Eels also spoke with Shane McCurry, a leadership expert who conducted part of the club's review of which the findings will be released next week, as well as having worked with O'Neill during his brief stint as Tigers general manager of football.
O'Neill is on a holiday with family in Fiji, but he met several members of the Eels board on Monday night for dinner and is expected to sign the contract when he returns in the hope of starting in early November.
Under the structure the Eels will implement, Arthur and O'Neill will report to chief executive Bernie Gurr.
O'Neill's first task will be to implement the recommendations of the review which will be outlined next week. He will be across development, pathways recruitment, retention and specialist coaching.