Gordon to step out of Hayne shadow
New Eels fullback Michael Gordon says he's not planning to replicate anything 2014 Dally M-winner Jarryd Hayne produced for Parramatta during a sparkling career, and went as far as insisting he's not even guaranteed a spot in first grade for the start of 2015.
The 32-year-old former Shark and Panther joined the Eels on a one-year deal and while he said he was open to play more than one season he'll worry about his playing future further down the track.
"I'm out here to impress and put best case forward to go longer, but focusing on one year and we'll see what happens," Gordon said.
"I'd like to think [I've got more than one year left in me], but footy is a strange game, lot of things can happen between now and Round 1. I'll play it by ear."
Gordon wasn't interested in any comparisons to the Eels' one-year-gone former superstar fullback Hayne, but was hoping to do his best to claim the problematic position that the club attempted – with very limited success – to fill with now-departed pair Will Hopoate and Reece Robinson last year.
"I want to work hard and if I earn the right to play there, then I'll be happy to do it for sure. But I have to earn it first," Gordon said of his designs on the blue and gold No.1 jersey.
''I think they had tried a few different people [there last year] and it didn't seem to be working for them. The possibility of coming over, I think [coach Brad Arthur] is keen for me to play there, I have to prove to him I deserve it.
"I've been told I have to work for everything. That's what I've always tried to do, and what I plan on doing over here. We haven't really touched the footy positional wise, I'm just here to work hard and play wherever."
Gordon laughed off any possible comparisons to Hayne.
"If people think I'll be Hayne, they're in for a shock. Nobody can replicate what he does. I'm a completely different style of player. I'm not here to fill his boots, I'm here to make my own mark, especially this time of year, I just want to train hard, get fit and strong and work on the combinations and have a really good pre-season," he said.
And Gordon outlined a few of his possible rivals for the vacant jersey in season 2016, headed by a young Manly recruit and an even younger Eels junior.
Former Sea Eagle Clint Gutherson's 2015 season was limited to just a few minutes – coincidentally at Parramatta against the Eels – in Round 1 as his season was wrecked by an ACL injury.
The 21-year-old started that game for Manly in the centres but is familiar with playing fullback and wing.
Elsewhere, 19-year-old Eels NYC star Bevan French is tipped as the club's next long-term custodian but is likely to start 2016 in the under-20s competition.
"'Gutho' played fullback, young Bevan French has been very impressive, both have been impressive so far, they'll keep me on my toes for sure," Gordon said.
"I'll just have to try and beat them in fitness!"
Gordon added that while he may look to provide some mentoring to the young pair at this stage he was more focused on finding his feet himself at a new club.
"I'll be happy to give any advice they want, but at the moment for me it's about settling in and getting used to the players and staff and routines here, and then start working closer with the younger backs and pass on some of my older wisdom," he said.
The prolific point scorer – likely to be Parramatta's first-choice goal kicker in 2016 – is set to break the 1,200-point barrier in Round 1 and hopes his goalkicking may give him a point-of-difference advantage at the selection table next year.
''I've spoken to Brad about goalkicking," Gordon said.
"I know there are expectations wherever you go with goalkicking, but I place a lot of expectations on my own kicking, so I'll come here with same attitude I always had: to keep working on it and improve my kicking. If that's what helps us get across the line in a few games, I'm all for it.''
Video and image first published at parraeels.com.au