Interim Parramatta boss Matt Phelan says he expects Ricky Stuart to see out his contract with the Eels and be coaching at the NRL club next season and beyond.
Stuart’s future has been the subject of intense speculation amid reports he has been offered a seven year $7 million dollar deal to coach Canberra, the club he won three premierships as a player, starting next year after they sacked David Furner last month.
The former Australia, NSW, Cronulla and Sydney Roosters mentor has done little to quash that speculation with some predicting he will announce his decision to leave the Eels shortly after their final round match against Newcastle at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.
But Phelan, the latest in a long line of chief executives to head up the embattled club, told the Eels website he is confident 2002 premiership winning coach Stuart will be at the club in 2014 and 2015.
“The number one issue on everyone’s lips is around our head coach Ricky Stuart,” Phelan said.
“Ricky Stuart has given no indication to me that he will not be coaching at this great club for 2014 and 2015.
“He is completely focused on this weekend’s fixture against the Newcastle Knights and all other conversations have been around our pre-season and pre-planning for 2014.”
Phelan also took aim at continuing reports over the disharmony of the Eels board, which many blame for the club’s current predicament – they will collect their second straight wooden spoon on Sunday – and for Stuart’s speculated desire to leave.
“I attend board meetings monthly and I speak to our board members on a day-to-day basis, specifically our chairman, Steve Sharp and I have seen no indication that they are not working towards the success of Parramatta in 2014 and beyond,” Phelan said.
“Every conversation I have with them, whether it be in a board meeting or individually, is focused on the success of this great club and returning it to the number one football club in the NRL.”