Injuries strike Eels in Bulldogs loss
A physical Friday night match at ANZ Stadium may have taken a heavy toll on the Parramatta squad with several key players in doubt for next week's visit to Auckland.
Far more concerning to Eels fans than losing the game 32-12 against fierce rivals Canterbury is facing the prospect of being without those players for an extended period so early in the season.
With hulking prop Junior Paulo just one week into a nine-game suspension for a dangerous throw, the club's depth could be tested in the coming rounds.
Eels coach Brad Arthur said after the game the injury toll looked "pretty bad".
Blockbusting winger Semi Radradra came off late in the first half with a knee injury and required a medicab to taxi him from the opposite side of the ground to the dressing rooms. However he later left the stadium unassisted, but limping and wearing a knee brace.
Centre Beau Champion went down with a knee injury late in the game with the side already out of interchanges, and went off after sitting on the turf as Bulldogs winger Curtis Rona ran straight past him to score his second try.
Halfback Chris Sandow, who injured an ankle during the Auckland Nines forcing him to miss a chunk of the pre-season, appeared to aggravate the injury when folded back awkwardly in a 26th-minute tackle. He left the field but returned 10 minutes after half time after getting the injury needled up.
Hard-hitting back-rower Tepai Moeroa left the field before fulltime for the second week running due to an ongoing complaint after appearing to favour his injured left shoulder for much of the game.
His fellow back-rower Anthony Watmough spent time off the field getting a leg gash stitched after spending time off the park in Round 1 with bruised ribs after copping a raised knee from ex-Manly teammate James Hasson, but is not considered in doubt for next week.
"We need to get some reports done. Beau Champion doesn't look good. Semi's doesn't look good. Once Chrissy's needle wears off that's probably not going to look good. Tepai - tough night but we've just got to front up next week," Arthur said.
Injuries to the back five could see the likes of Vai Toutai, Ryan Morgan and Bureta Faraimo, who all have NRL experience, come into consideration. John Folau – younger brother of ex-Kangaroo Israel – could also be in the mix for an NRL debut, along with Englishman Ben Crooks. If Sandow is missing, reserve half Luke Kelly appears the most logical replacement.