Parramatta Eels Coach Brad Arthur has issued an ultimatum to his players, informing them that they have the final nine games of the season to prove they belong on a senior list in the NRL.

Given the trend in recent years in the NRL of blaming coaches for the players’ failure to produce, we can only hope that the club is giving Arthur 10 games, rather than eight, to turn things around.

Parramatta was fancied at the begging of the Telstra 2018 NRL Premiership competition, but that fancy has emphatically faded, or so it should be hoped.

The pronouncement by Arthur does not apply to all the players, just about half, perhaps the half that are thinking, “Anywhere but here, anywhere but here.”

There are already seven of 17 who do not have a contract for next year and one of those is one who has been known to hop a code or two when his NRL fortunes did not pan out.

Arthur went further to suggest that even those with contracts had better start producing if they want to retain their jobs for 2019.

Arthur has as his ambition a rather modest objective of winning more of the remaining games, so it would seem 5 – 4 over the balance of the season would save some players from the dole.

“We want to do a bit of planning for next year but we need to make sure that we finish the year with more wins than losses,” Arthur told AAP. “A lot of blokes are actually playing for next year as well. Some blokes are off-contract, some blokes are looking to play to cement a spot for next year.”

Arthur would love to avoid a spoon, as that utensil is usually the equivalent of a ticket for the next train out of town for a coach.

While we do not think any of the Eels snuck into the mysterious training camp that seemingly has sunk the AFL’s Crows, Parramatta is certainly playing like they did exactly that.

The fact that Manu Ma’u is done for the remainder of the competition after fracturing his cheek bone repping for Tonga did not aid the dilemma that has the name Parramatta attached to it.