Eels hooker Isaac De Gois says it was frustrating to be sidelined with a fractured cheek but even with no other fit hookers at the club he expects frontliner Nathan Peats to slot back into the starting role on his return from a knee injury.
De Gois suffered a fractured cheekbone in the side's Round 10 loss to the Warriors, and with Nathan Peats (knee) and Kaysa Pritchard (pec) also unavailable last week coach Brad Arthur was forced to call on back-rower Cody Nelson before De Gois's earlier-than-expected return to face Wests Tigers on Monday night.
De Gois said the layoff was frustrating and now hopes to do everything he can to stake a regular first grade spot before Peats's expected return in Round 19 or 20.
"When I'm in the team I just do my best to do my job, do my best for the team and [coach] Brad [Arthur] and I'll keep doing what I need to do to stay in the top 17," De Gois told NRL.com after the side's 28-16 win.
"Peatsy is a great player and he works hard off the field so when he's back he'll be ready to go too. The more players we've got fit towards the back end the better."
De Gois was "a bit gassed" at times in his first NRL game for six weeks in making 42 tackles and a try assist in an 80-minute stint, but came good.
He said the injury layoff was frustrating irrespective of the injury toll to the side's other No.9s.
"It doesn't matter if everyone was fit, it's just frustrating to miss footy period," he said.
"You train all off season to play footy and when you're out it's a bit of a downer but there's not much you can do, it's part of the game and it's just great to be back today."
He added while the win, strewn with errors and missed tackles "wasn't pretty" it was something the team could learn from and build on.
"It definitely wasn't pretty but we'll take the win and learn from it. We're got the bye next week, we'll rest up a bit, do our prep and video for what we need to do for the Bulldogs [in Round 18]."
He said the side seemed to be building a little bit of momentum but next week's bye would also help in terms of resting a few niggling injuries.
"As far as the team, we had a good win at Melbourne and obviously [Monday night] wasn't pretty but we'll take the win, we'll freshen up this week with the bye then get ready for the Bulldogs, it's a bit of a cliché but we just have to take it week by week.
"In the NRL it's pretty brutal so when you get the rest it's good to freshen up. We'll need it to get ready for the Bulldogs."
De Gois paid tribute to the form of talented five-eighth-turned-fullback Corey Norman, who has been one of the side's best all season.
"Norms has been good all year, he's had some brilliant touches and his kicking game, the big thing no-one sees Norms do is his communication on the field is outstanding.
"You can see Chrissy [Sandow] playing off the back of it which is what Chrissy does. It's good having those blokes in your team.
"[Communication] is his job but he does it really well. He's still only 24, still very young, and to be that young and to direct the boys around the field like that is a credit to him. His touches are very classy."