“He was really good with his time and he talked about his own experience and what to look out for.
“Friday will be a great experience for Jake against Nathan. He’s got to play against Latrell Mitchell, Benji Marshall, Cody Walker, Adam Reynolds, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. He’s lucky to have this opportunity.
“All the young blokes who have had their chance this year will get to roll into the next pre-season with that little extra hunger and drive.
“They might not get any footy next year, who knows. But they’re getting a taste now. They are good signs for the club.
“Nathan is the best player in the game right now. Nathan and Tom Trbojevic, it’s hard to say you can stop them, you just have to try and limit their opportunities.”
Arthur brings up 200 games in what has been a rollercoaster ride at the Eels. It is a remarkable achievement considering he had to rebuild the club after some of its toughest times with salary-cap dramas.
For all the bad blood between Parramatta and Penrith, it is easy to forget a Panthers legend, Royce Simmons, was the one who helped guide Arthur into coaching in the first place.
Simmons, a Penrith premiership legend, told Arthur he was “too short and too slow” to play first grade, and suggested he give coaching a go, which he did 25 years ago.
Simmons on Thursday recalled asking Arthur if he wanted to coach Cowra, Simmons’ old stomping ground, while Batemans Bay had also inquired about potential captain-coach candidates.
“Brad was a smart footballer, he knew a lot about the game and how to play it, he was just a little too short and a little slow,” Simmons told the Herald.
“He was a good kid and I didn’t want to mess him around, so I called him in one day, sat him down and gave him the facts.
“I told him, ‘Why don’t you try to get into coaching, go to the bush and learn the hard way’.
“He said he preferred to go to the south coast. I think I even gave him a few fitness programs to take with him to Batemans Bay.
“When he went away I thought he might coach a few lower-grade sides back in Sydney. It never crossed my mind he’d end up where he’s ended up. I always hoped he would become an NRL coach because he was so professional. It would have been a waste of talent if he didn’t get into it [coaching] because he was so smart.”
As for Penrith’s rivalry with the Eels, Simmons said: “Hate Parramatta? I didn’t like anyone too much.”