Warriors coach Nathan Brown stopped short of publicly criticising Parramatta for needing to seek an exemption to the NRL’s COVID protocols to name a team for Sunday’s match at Suncorp Stadium but he did remind the Eels of the sacrifices made by his club and players.
Parramatta are awaiting clearances for rookie five-eighth Jakob Arthur, interchange forward Ray Stone, back-up hooker Joey Lussick and utility Jordan Rankin after ignoring the NRL’s advice to clubs to withdraw players from last weekend’s NSW Cup matches.
With five-eighth Dylan Brown and centre Marata Niukore suspended, the Eels have only 17 available players who had remained within their COVID biosecurity bubble after the NRL re-introduced Level 3 restrictions last Thursday.
Hooker Reed Mahoney is also in doubt after failing a HIA during last Friday’s match against the Roosters and Arthur, Stone, Lussick and Rankin will only be able to join the team for training on Saturday if they pass a COVID test upon arrival in Brisbane.
Brown did not want to air his views publicly but it was clear that he was not impressed by the situation after the sacrifices the Warriors made to ensure the Telstra Premiership continued last year by relocating to Australia, and doing so again this season.
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“I have got my opinion on it, but I don’t want to give that,” Brown said. “At the end of the day the people who make the rules sit far above me, I am here to coach the Warriors.
“All I know is that as a club, these guys have made more sacrifices than anyone. That’s not including myself because I wasn’t there last year, and I haven’t had to leave my country.
“I think as a club this club has made more sacrifices than anyone else and if everyone makes them it is probably fair, but that’s the way it is.
“I would be trying to get them to play too if I was Parramatta. You have got to try and put your best team out there. If you are allowed too, that is what I would be doing.”
The Warriors are yet to watch video footage of Arthur, the 18-year-old son of Parramatta coach Brad Arthur, who also needed to be upgraded to an NRL contract on Tuesday to be able to take his place in the No.6 jersey at Magic Round.
However, Brown believes he will have little problem fitting into the Eels line-up, despite being unable to train with the team until the day before his NRL debut.
“I haven ‘t actually seen him play yet to be honest, but I am sure that if he is playing he is going to bring plenty of things to the table," Brown said.
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“With the disruptions, those blokes have been training all year and when you go through a lot of their players, they have all been there for a long time.
“Whichever ones come in and play from outside their top squad I am sure they have done plenty of training with them in the past four-to-six months and in some cases I am sure it has been two or three years so I am sure it won’t be too disruptive for them.”
Arthur lives at home with his father but despite Jakob being unable to enter the team bubble until they arrive in Queensland, there are no restrictions on Brad coaching the team.
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