French at fullback fine by Gordon
On Friday night Eels fans got a small glimpse of the future with exciting youngster Bevan French interchanging with veteran Michael Gordon between wing and fullback and after the game, Gordon said he was more than happy to see French's pace utilised for the better of the team.
Gordon had a fine game himself as well as, crucially, a perfect night off the kicking tee, slotting a conversion and two penalty goals in the tense 10-9 Round 22 Telstra Premiership win over Manly.
The final goal – from 40 metres out and close to touch – was the sort that can be particularly challenging but after guiding it straight between the sticks, Gordon told NRL.com he practises those sorts of shots all the time and was confident as he walked up to the tee.
"I practice those a fair bit surprisingly, I always finish with penalty goals in my practice routine so it was a pretty familiar spot for me and I was pretty confident going into it," Gordon said.
"It was one of those games, it wasn't high scoring, we blew a few opportunities that could have hurt us but in the end it was good to get the win.
"It was pretty scrappy, both teams played good footy at times. We said before the game we just had to find a way to win and we were lucky to get the win in the end."
Of spending time on the wing to allow French a chance to roam at fullback – much of which came with the team in need of points while 9-8 down in the final 15 minutes of the contest – Gordon said he wasn't aware of any preconceived plan to give French a run at the back but was happy to go with it if it helped the team
"I'm not sure [if there was a plan], the call came from upstairs to get some speed in around the middle and in the conditions it was great to get him in there," Gordon said.
"Any time he gets half an opportunity he's got plenty of speed and I think that was the idea, get the old legs out of there and get his speedy legs in there which I thought worked really well."
Gordon is headed to the Sydney Roosters in 2017 and with former Eels fullback Jarryd Hayne having signed with the Titans, it appears just French and Clint Gutherson are in the race for the blue and gold No.1 jersey next year.
"I've really enjoyed my time there but they're looking for the future maybe and if that's the way they want to do it, it doesn't worry me at all," Gordon said.
"Any time you get him in and get more ball it's probably better for us. We kept swapping back and forth, it didn't bother me one bit."