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Plans unveiled for Parra's new high performance centre

Parramatta CEO Bernie Gurr said the rugby league community of western Sydney deserved a complex like the Eels' proposed Centre of Excellence at Kellyville.

And since the club is expected to set up camp in demountables at their new digs by November this year, the reality of the $40 million project is now sharply in focus. The success of the Penrith Training  Academy in neighbouring Panthers territory is also in the forefront of everyone's minds.

But will the current Eels head coach Brad Arthur be around to see the new high performance take shape?

"Well we have an agreed timeline with Brad and we're on that timeline," Gurr said of Arthur, who is off contract at the end of 2019.

"He knows there is a process and he's on board with that."

It's not clear who will be training at the new headquarters for the 2020 pre-season, with 15 regular first-graders seeking new deals, including halfback Mitch Moses and fullback Clint Gutherson.

"There's quite a lot of our players off contract and we're working through that," Gurr said.

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"Everyone seems to think it's just Mitch and Clint – and they are two very, very, important pieces because we want them here and we've told them that – but there are a number of other players as well.

"So Mark O'Neill, our footy manager, is a pretty busy man at the moment working through all that."

One thing no-one has to worry about is a federal government commitment of $15 million towards the new Centre of Excellence.

Politicians from all three levels of government – federal, state, local council – were at Kellyville Memorial Park on Monday to pledge their commitment. Even if there is a change of government in Canberra, the bipartisan approach for the project is sealed.

The centre will go ahead providing four international standard rugby league fields, an elite match venue, a 1,000-seat grand stand, an all-weather field, and a 5,000 square-metre sport and community centre that will house the Eels' high-performance facilities.

The idea is to not only have the NRL team housed here but a NRLW team, touch football men's and women's teams, wheelchair and disability teams, and junior grades.

Gurr said the Hills district has been Sydney's fastest growth corridor for the past 10 years.

"But the biggest problem is the lack of playing fields," he said.

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The Kellyville site is 15km west of Parramatta's CBD but Gurr said 40% of the club's members and juniors live in this area.

"This is still in the Parramatta district, and as long as you remain there your members stay with you," he said.

"People who live in Sydney understand the real estate pressure, when you are needing to find space."

Under former Eels CEO Scott Seward, there was a plan to make the current Old Saleyards training facility built into a high-performance centre.

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"We did a fair bit of due diligence when it came to the Old Saleyards, but the beauty of this area is there is so much more space. This was the better option," Gurr said.

"The reality is if you don't have a centre of excellence it is hard to recruit players.

"You also need facilities of the highest standard to prepare your players the best you can.

"The other matter is that it is not an optimal arrangement to have your admin and your football departments separated, as we have now. We will all come together here."

The three stages of construction should be completed in under five years.

There will be upgraded parklands and open space for residents to use as well.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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