Tough times to benefit Eels in 2017
The trial by fire currently being experienced by young players such as Clint Gutherson and Bevan French will benefit Parramatta from next season onwards, according to coach Brad Arthur.
Speaking after a 23-8 loss to Wests Tigers at ANZ on Saturday – in which they never gave in and defended stoutly for long periods but lacked attacking punch with most of their best players unavailable – Arthur praised the effort his troops continue to put in each game.
"We haven't given up, that's for sure and I think that was evident. We're still playing tough, we're still being resilient but just lack a little bit of finesse and polish at times," Arthur said.
"It's hard [missing players] but it gives other boys an opportunity, they just need to make sure they step up and take it."
Former Sea Eagle Clint Gutherson is primarily a fullback and started the season on the wing with just five first grade games for Manly under his belt before that.
A raft of injuries and departures among other players saw him switch to centre for a time, spend half a game at fullback then shift more recently to the halves. He has excelled in every role and though raw as a five-eighth has still been among his team's best.
Meanwhile, slightly-built speedster French was not expected to feature in NRL calculations this year before a host of injuries in the outside backs handed him a chance and his eighth NRL game. On Saturday was just the second in which he has not scored a try, racking up 10 four-pointers in his other six games.
"It's forced our hand to do some things we probably wouldn't have done if the situation was different so it gives them some experience," Arthur said.
"Gutho's had to play a few different roles. His effort's been first class for us. He's a real competitor on the football and Bev's learning the rigours of getting bashed around a little bit week in week out and he's going to be better for it next year.
"He's got another pre-season where he can get a bit stronger, do some more work physically with the boys and he'll be better for it next year.
"We want to finish the year strong and make sure that we don't get back into some bad habits.
"We've got to make sure we've got our standards and expectations around effort and what's required from each other and the teammates so we want to make sure we continue to do that for the next five weeks."