Gordon likely to move on in 2017
Parramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur has all but confirmed veteran fullback Michael Gordon won't be at the club next season.
Gordon had been linked with a move to the Sydney Roosters as early as next week but it appears the Eels custodian is more likely to see out his contract at Parramatta instead of joining the Tricolours as a mid-season recruit.
The 32-year-old former NSW Blues representative joined the blue and golds after three years at the Sharks and seven seasons with the Panthers.
"'Flash' (Gordon) always knew that it was a one-year deal and he's proven to be a handy acquisition for us," Arthur told media on Thursday morning.
"There was an opportunity for us to keep him next year, but there are better opportunities for him at the Roosters, so good luck to him.
"Flash has done a really good job for us and he'll continue to do a good job for us while he's here."
While it will be tough to replace Gordon's near 200-games worth of NRL experience, Arthur is confident the club has plenty of depth coming through the ranks.
"It's a loss when you lose any player, but we've got some young kids in Bevan French and Clint Gutherson who we don't want to block their pathways. Both of them want to play fullback at some stage," the Eels mentor said.
French is only two games into his NRL career but the 20-year-old speedster has already shown that he is a more than capable option anywhere in the back three.
The Eels rookie was a shining light at the Auckland Nines earlier this year scoring a record eight tries and was subsequently named in the Team of the Tournament.
Injuries restricted to him just four games in the Holden Cup this year where he still managed to score six tries, including a Round 4 hat-trick, while he crossed the stripe 16 times in 22 games in 2015.
French has gone on to make a sparkling start to his first-grade career scoring in each of his first two games and also produced a match-winning tackle on Newcastle's Nathan Ross at the death to seal victory on his debut.
"He played in the Nines and he did a really good job for us and then he had a few injuries. He had an elbow injury so he didn't play a lot of footy in the 20s," Arthur said.
"We gave him an opportunity against Newcastle and he was the unlikely hero for us saving a try to win the game. On the weekend he did some really good things.
"He's learning some lessons as he goes along. His job is to finish and there was a try-scoring opportunity which he fumbled on the weekend so it's all part of the experience for him. We're happy with his two games so far.
"I think eventually [he'll be a] fullback, but to get him used to the contact and the physical aspect of NRL it's probably best to put him on the wing. He's comfortable there at the moment.
"We've got a whole pre-season to get through. He'd like to see himself be considered for fullback and so would Clint Gutherson so there's a bit of competition there."
French won't have it all his own way next year with Gutherson a proven option at the back.
The 21-year-old played for the Junior Kangaroos in 2014 in the No.1 jersey and also played there for the NSW under-20s in 2013 and 2014.
Gutherson was limited to just five games in three seasons with the Sea Eagles before moving to the Eels at the end of the 2015 season.
While he has predominantly played on the wing this year, Gutherson showed off his talents at the back when he switched to his preferred position midway through the Round 9 win over the Bulldogs.
Gutherson scored a try, had 11 tackle breaks and ran for a season-high 216 metres that night to show Arthur he is a viable option to replace Gordon in 2017.
"When we brought him in he'd only played a handful of NRL games so we put him on the wing," Arthur said.
"He was coming off that knee reconstruction and he's found his feet and he's getting a bit of momentum in the NRL.
"The last couple of weeks he's played in the centres and has from the left to the right and back to the left. He's played a bit of fullback [as well] so he's pretty versatile for us.
"I'm sure he'll want to lock down a either a centre or a fullback spot within the not too distant future."