FORMER Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has joined arch rivals Manly as an assistant on a two-year deal.
Arthur will join Geoff Toovey's staff in a direct swap with his predecessor, Matt Parish, who will join Ricky Stuart at the Eels. It's expected Andrew Johns will round out the Sea Eagles' coaching staff - league's latest Immortal is working through the final details of a deal which will have him consult exclusively to Manly on a part-time basis.
Arthur was interviewed for the head coaching role at Wests Tigers and was also sounded out by South Sydney coach Michael Maguire about a shift to Redfern. Instead, he beat a host of candidates, including Phil Blake, Tony Iro and Stuart Raper, to join the 2011 premiers.
''Growing up as a Parramatta junior, I loved to hate Manly,'' quipped Arthur, who represented the Eels at SG Ball and under-21s level. ''It will be a weird feeling, the same when we play Melbourne, too, because of the nice competitive rivalry between the clubs.
''I'm just grateful that Geoff and the Manly club has given me an opportunity. I can further develop my coaching and learn from the senior players.''
Arthur had a taste of coaching at the highest level when he took over from Stephen Kearney at Parramatta with six games remaining in this season. The Eels won two of those matches while employing a more expansive game plan. Arthur hopes his latest role will provide him with the experience required to become a full-time head coach.
''I wouldn't have got the job if I didn't have a few things to offer and I see it is a stepping stone into something in a couple of years' time, hopefully,'' he said.
''I had four years in Melbourne and two years at Parramatta and I've signed on for two years in Manly.
''At the end of the two years - if I'm ready, the right job is there and someone is willing to give me a go - this is a definite step in the right direction.
''I love it, it's in my blood and I think I was born to be a coach.''
The former Batemans Bay and Cairns Brothers captain-coach believes the Sea Eagles are well positioned for more premiership success.
''The playing group is all quality, you only need to look at how many internationals and Origin players they've got. That was a key factor in the decision and will be beneficial for me,'' he said.