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Eels adapt to Gutherson loss

Eels centre Brad Takairangi admits it felt like the side had lost on Sunday afternoon after news Clint Gutherson had a serious knee injury. 

Parramatta's worst fears were confirmed on Monday when the 22-year-old was ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Gutherson has been a dominant force in recent months and despite facing the prospect of not featuring in finals football this season, has played a strong part in guiding the Eels into their best position in close to a decade. 

"It was heartbreaking to hear. Nobody was cheering at all about the win [at full-time]," Takairangi said.

"He is in good spirits. Obviously everyone is a bit disappointed but he is a good kid and will be fine.

"He is a big part of why we are here at the moment and hopefully we can go on and do a good job for him."

Brad Arthur's men have had their fair share of injuries this season after losing Frank Pritchard, Bevan French and Corey Norman early on, before the season-ending injury to Kaysa Pritchard.

Experienced hooker Isaac De Gois has not featured in 2017 due to concussion concerns while Michael Jennings has also spent time on the sidelines.

In the Eels' advantage is the ready-made replacement for Gutherson in French, who has scored 26 tries in 26 games and is still seen as the clubs long-term fullback.

"We have awesome depth in every position," Takairangi said. 

"Bevan was our first choice fullback at the start of the year, and he gets to go back there and do his thing. 

"They are two different players but Bevan is a freak of nature and it's his preferred position so we are looking forward to playing with him at the back."

The move to the left side of the field for Takairangi is beginning to pay off for both the 28-year-old and edge partner Semi Radradra, who has seen more involvement during the past month after a lean patch in the middle of the season.

Radradra has eight line breaks in the past three games alone on the back of the lead up work from Takairangi and Norman. 

"I'm enjoying it, obviously with Norms nearly back to full fitness I'm beginning to get more ball and it's good," he said. 

"Semi is a freak and we just want to put him in the clear to do the rest. Our involvement has increased and hopefully we can build on that more."

Parramatta's potent edge attack is set to be tested against a more fancied Broncos outfit on Friday night with in-form centres James Roberts and Tautau Moga coming off strong performances against the Bulldogs.

With the return of Australian fullback Darius Boyd for the encounter, the Eels are set to receive the ultimate test against a top side. 

"Jimmy the Jet is really good. He is a friend of mine and I'm really looking forward to playing against him," Takairangi said.

"The Broncos will be a good measuring stick for us, to see where we are at. Boyd coming back, he is a world class player, so we will have to be on our toes.

"But that's the best thing about us is that we are sitting in seventh and we haven't played for 80 minutes one game this whole year. 

"We are still building towards that and will need to do it this week against the Broncos."


Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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