NRL 2024: Parramatta Eels coach, Jason Ryles, Andrew Webster, Todd Payten, Michael Maguire, contenders, Brad Arthur axed

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Jason Ryles is considered the frontrunner to succeed Brad Arthur, unless the Eels can pull off a bold bid to lure a current NRL coach to jump ship like Andrew Webster or Todd Payten.

Arthur’s sacking and their top candidate Wayne Bennett signing with South Sydney leaves the Eels in a predicament as they try to find a coach that can end the longest title drought in the NRL stretching back 37 years.

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With no clear-cut candidate identified despite Arthur’s sacking, The Daily Telegraph’s Brent Read explained the Eels will now draft a list of targets — with some current NRL coaches even rumoured to be considered.

Current Melbourne Storm assistant Jason Ryles is considered the front-runner, with NSW coach Michael Maguire and Sharks and QLD assistant Josh Hannay among the top contenders.

Read said names like Warriors coach Andrew Webster and North Queensland’s Todd Payten had also been mentioned but he considered them “far-fetched” options.

However, NRL 360 co-host James Graham said the Eels should get the best man for the job even if he already has one, which sparked a debate.

“Why would they not go after Webster?” Graham asked.

“Because he has just done a four-year extension over there (at the Warriors) and I think it is unrealistic,” Read replied.

“But if they were going to throw Wayne Bennett money around, they wouldn’t need to put Wayne Bennett money to Andrew Webster, but they could afford to buy him out of his contract,” Graham offered.

“Its four years so it is a big blow out and I don’t think the Warriors would let him go,” Read said.

“I think they are pretty committed to him. He does have a great relationship with that club.”

NRL 360 host Braith Anasta believes the Eels should canvas all possible targets, but doubts Webster will walk out on the Warriors.

“I think he is very happy there,” Anasta said.

“But you are right they could make a fair play at him and get him back to Western Sydney. It is something that Parramatta could definitely do, but I don’t think it will happen.

“I think he is just too happy there and the Warriors are flying and the hierarchy there won’t let him go anyway.”

Read believes the Eels need to take a chance on finding the next Webster if they can’t get a proven premiership winner.

“The Warriors took a chance on Andrew Webster, so why wouldn’t Parramatta take a chance on Jason Ryles, Josh Hannay, Mick Ennis has got a mention,” Read said.

Anasta believes Ryles is the best option out of the head coaches in waiting that are untested at NRL level.

“I think Ryles is the one,” Anasta said.

“I think he will be the coach for a number of reasons. He has been waiting in the wings for a while.

“He nearly went to the Dragons, but he wasn’t happy with their roster at the time and he turned it back.

“He thought he was going to be coach of Melbourne next year and then Bellamy stayed on for another year.

“He has done his time. he has done his apprenticeship. He has been at the Roosters. He has witnessed success. He has played at the highest level.

“With the roster they have got at Parramatta, I think he would like that more than what he had at the Dragons at that time.

“I think he is the one they should go for and he is the one that will get it.”

However, Dean Ritchie questioned if the Eels need a veteran coach rather than a rookie coach to work with their ageing roster.

“With the senior roster that they have got with Moses and Gutherson etc, is a rookie coach the right fit for Parramatta?” Ritchie asked.

“Or do they look at a Michael Maguire or is Madge perhaps too much like Brad Arthur?”

Anasta believes Maguire is the best candidate if the Eels go for an experienced NRL coach.

“I think Maguire would be a good choice too,” Anasta said.

“I would have it out of Maguire and Ryles. That’s the decision they have got to make. Do they go for experience in Maguire or do they go for the next up and coming coach who has done the work.”

Anasta questioned if Trent Barrett could come from the clouds if he gets the Eels back on track in the interim role.

“What about Trent Barrett? Is he a chance?,” Anasta asked.

“He is coming in as the interim coach and who knows if they win a few games in a row, does he come into contention?”

However, Read believes Barrett has been too close to the Eels’ struggles the last two seasons and they need a change of direction.

“I’m sure he will get interviewed, but Trent has been there for the last 18 months or so and he has been part of that set up, so I think it is difficult in that situation when he has been part of it,” Read said.

“I’m sure Trent will get another chance at some point down the track because he wants to be a head coach again, but I just think there is some guys in front of him at the moment.

“But if he wins four or five in a row, who knows?”

Originally published as ‘Buy him out’: Eels urged to consider ‘far-fetched’ poach of rival coach as top options debated

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