Eels’ coach ‘knows’ 2016 NRL expectations

New Parramatta CEO John Boulous doesn’t need to lay down the law to coach Brad Arthur – he already knows it.

Hailed as the saviour of the franchise since taking the clipboard from Ricky Stuart at the end of 2012, Arthur is yet to lead the Eels out of the rugby league wilderness.

But with arguably the most-improved NRL roster of the summer – just eight players remain from the Stuart-era – the pressure is on the popular Arthur to deliver their first finals appearance in five years.

“I don’t need to outline that to Brad,” Boulous told AAP.

“Brad is on board as they come. We expect to be playing semi-finals football and we’ve done that every year since Brad’s been here.”

The shock signing of the game’s best centre in Michael Jennings topped a recruitment drive that includes New Zealand five-eighth Kieran Foran and NSW State of Origin second-rower Beau Scott.

Former Blues winger Michael Gordon also gives Parramatta their first bona fide fullback since the exit of golden child Jarryd Hayne to the NFL.

Having been punished for salary cap breaches overseen by previous administrations, Boulous says that not only is the roster now in good shape, but is one moulded to Arthur’s wants.

More importantly, it’s one that should elevate the club back into top-eight contention.

“I’m sure Brad’s very happy with the recruitments and I know – from training and through the pre-season – the players we’ve brought in have made a big difference,” Boulous said.

“It’s pretty positive on where we’re at on the field.”

While the signing of Jennings is considered a major coup, it also casts doubt on the club’s ability to fit Hayne back into the squad should the San Francisco 49er decide to pull the plug on his American dream.

The former Kangaroo has extinguished any hint of a return to the NRL but, if he does, Parramatta’s long-term commitments to Jennings, Foran and Scott would be a major obstacle.

Two-time Dally M winger Semi Radradra and Anthony Watmough are also tied up on big money until the end of 2018.

Boulous declined to comment on any hypothetical return of the prodigal son.

“Obviously, we don’t expect him to be available any time soon. We’re supportive of him continuing to follow his dream and build his career in the NFL,” he said.

“I can’t really comment on that, if he was available, other than to say that we consider Jarryd a big part of our club.”

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