Brad Arthur has denied suggestions Semi Radradra was mentally distracted and physically underdone after an underwhelming return to the NRL field in Parramatta’s 34-24 loss to Cronulla on Saturday.
Radradra had his quietest night of the season and lacked impact as the Sharks continued on their 12-game winning streak.
Held to just 115m from 16 carries, Radradra for the first time this season failed either score a try, come up with a try assist, break the line or bust a tackle.
This season he has regularly racked up big numbers in all the major attacking categories but looked shades of his usual self amidst a maelstrom of controversy.
Rumours of a defection to European rugby union, failing to arrive back at training in time after a mid-season hiatus in his native Fiji and being charged with three counts of domestic violence put the Australian Test winger firmly in the spotlight.
The Eels resisted calls to stand him down, vowing to stick by him, saying it was important for him to be afforded the presumption of innocence. He was roundly booed by the 19,142-strong crowd at Shark Park every time he touched the ball.
But Eels coach Arthur brushed aside questions about whether Radradra’s head was in the game.
“He seems fine,” Arthur said.
“He’s disappointed like the rest of the boys that we lost. But he’s okay.”
He also shot down questions about whether Radradra’s 12-day sojourn had affected his build up to the clash against the ladder leaders.
“Semi had been doing plenty of training in Fiji so it wasn’t that,” Arthur said.
“The Sharks did a good job on him. They were getting three and four into him every time.
“In the second half he had some good carries and got us on the front foot. But early they did a fair job on him.”