Eels set bar at NRL top eight

A tough-talking Brad Arthur says the time for Parramatta to make excuses is over as they aim to break their five-year absence from the NRL finals.

The Eels coach says after recruiting strongly for season 2016, they have set the bar at a top eight finish.

Last week blue and gold great Peter Sterling said anything less than playing finals football would be a disappointment after recruiting the likes of Kieran Foran, Michael Gordon and Beau Scott.

Sterling said Arthur now had the squad he wanted while Gordon’s high-precision goalkicking would give the side a dimension they haven’t had in recent seasons.

The Eels haven’t played September football since Jarryd Hayne propelled them to the grand final in 2009 and when asked on Triple M if it was fair that they were expected to return to the finals this year, Arthur said: “Yeah it is.

“Every team that goes through a pre-season wants to be playing finals football and we’re no different.

“We’re happy with the way we’ve recruited and we’re happy with the way we’ve trained and we want to be playing finals football.”

While most of the attention has focussed on the Eels’ off-season recruits, Arthur was putting high expectations on the side’s younger crop who he demanded must make the step up this year.

“I think the nucleus of the team that we’ve been building over the last two years, a lot of our young boys, a lot of them are going to be 50-gamers in 2016,” he said.

“They’re the ones I’m expecting big seasons from and the most improvement out of.

“Being young and inexperienced doesn’t cut it any more. They need to aim up and I think they will.”

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