The roster he has built features no shortage of consistent workers, but lacks a genuine game-breaker and the premiership drought, which dates back to 1986, looks unlikely to end this year.
Sarantinos said the club would not get bogged down with speculation about Arthur, saying: “It’s all external. I understand people will comment on it, but it only becomes an issue if you allow it to become an issue, and I’m not worried about it … it’s my job to not listen to the outside noise.
“In tough times you support your people and do what you can to give them the opportunity to get through it. The best thing we can do right now is support our people and give them the best possible chance to turn it around.”
Pressed on Bennett being linked to a move to Sydney’s western suburbs, Sarantinos said: “I don’t know anything about it.”
Sarantinos said Arthur was “contracted for 2022”, but there had been no talks about an extension.
The sight of Mahoney in tears on the Cbus Stadium sidelines on Friday was tough to watch. He was due to undergo scans on Saturday, but it is expected he will not return this season given he injured the shoulder earlier in the year. The club has several dummy-half options, including Joey Lussick.
Adding to Parramatta’s angst is the number of players off contract at the end of 2022 and who will all be free to negotiate with rival clubs from November 1, including Dylan Brown and skipper Clint Gutherson. Brown has already reportedly popped up on the radar of Canberra.
Ryan Girdler questioned Parramatta’s premiership credentials when he said on Triple M on Saturday: “Parramatta at this point in time they don’t have the cattle. They don’t have the experience at the back end of the year and in representative games that you need to stand up in the moments in those games.”