Eels' injury woes get even worse in tough win
Parramatta's horror injury toll got significantly worse in a gutsy 32-24 win over the Warriors on Friday with the week all up seeing as many as six new names in the unavailable list.
With regular first-graders Isaac De Gois (concussion, indefinite), Peni Terepo (pectoral, Round 22), Frank Pritchard (foot, Round 18), Corey Norman (knee, Round 17) and Michael Jennings (quad, Round 16) out with medium- or long-term injuries, the lead-up to the Warriors game saw skipper Tim Mannah (ribs) and prop Siosaia Vave (calf) pull out.
Impressive lock Nathan Brown (ribs) punched out a match-winning 80 minutes in the middle despite severe discomfort but the team still finished with just one fit player on the bench as first hooker Kaysa Pritchard (concussion), winger Josh Hoffman (knee) then bench forward David Gower (broken hand) were rubbed out.
To make matters worse centre Kirisome Auva'a suffered a knee injury late in the game but played on with coach Brad Arthur hoping the news would be good in his case.
While Pritchard will undergo concussion protocols and may be available next week, of the remaining injuries it seems only Norman is a chance of returning. In that event, impressive playmaker Clint Gutherson would likely end up plugging one of the gaps elsewhere in the backline.
Speaking after the game, Arthur described the 32-24 result as a "brave performance".
"'Hoffy' is going to be missing some football – he'll need to get some scans," Arthur said.
"There's plenty of blokes that took the field [on Friday] that probably shouldn't have so they're bashed up a little bit but they'll be right, they'll have to aim up for us again next week."
He said Auva'a had a knee issue in the final minutes "but he reckons he'll be right." Gower went off with a broken hand. Utility back Will Smith made 41 tackles in 68 minutes in the unfamiliar hooking role after Pritchard was concussed early. Brown punched out 180 metres in 80 minutes with his rib cartilage problem needled up with a pain-killing injection.
"It just showed me and our supporters and their teammates how important the win was and how important this season is to them. They've worked really hard like every other team but it's finally starting to show a bit on the field," Arthur said.
"[Smith] did a good job. He got targeted a bit being a half and fullback in the middle but I thought he did a pretty good job. Seventy minutes, he wasn't expecting to get that out but made his tackles and got his body in front and that's all we can ask from him."
The Hoffman injury may postpone the looming dilemma of how Arthur will fit Norman, Gutherson and new recruit Mitch Moses into the 17.
"I just lost a couple so we'll just throw them out there. They'll fill somewhere. It doesn't matter where I play Gutho, he'll still so his same job," Arthur said of Gutherson's role.
Co-captain Beau Scott said the massive mid-game injury toll was "not ideal" but praised the gritty performance of his teammates.
"I thought the boys hung in well. We knew we had to get the two points tonight no matter which way we did it and we did it the hard way so I'm pretty proud of the group," Scott said.