Parramatta suffers double injury blow
PARRAMATTA have been dealt a double blow with co-captain Tim Mannah and Kaysa Pritchard ruled out with injury for Friday night's cellar-dweller clash against Canterbury.
Mannah, who had found some form after he was relegated to playing off the bench, will spend three to four weeks on the sideline with a fractured eye socket.
He suffered the injury in the Eels' two-point loss to Cronulla last weekend.
Hooker Pritchard suffered a groin injury in the same game but is only likely to miss one match.
His forced omission is a huge setback for the struggling club.
Pritchard had burst into form over the last couple of rounds - including his inspiring performance against Wests Tigers which earned him the man-of-the-match Anzac Medal.
Eels forward Kenny Edwards says his side will miss the drive and aggression the 88kg hooker had been providing in recent weeks.
"It's tough for him, he's found some form too. He's been that bit of energy for us too, it's tough for the team as well," he said.
"He's a big loss, he's just started to play some good footy."
Edwards is confident coach Brad Arthur has the cavalry needed to cover Pritchard and that he is confident utility Will Smith will step-up in his absence.
Back-up rake Cameron King hasn't been sighted since round three but has been named as a reserve.
"You know we have a couple of boys there in Kingy and Will Smith who we know can do that job," he said.
"Kingy's been playing well. He's was man of the match the last two weeks in reserve grade.
"If he comes in, we know he can do the job."
Former Eels custodian Bevan French will again line-up on the wing, but has revealed he is still not at full fitness and is being needled before every match.
"It's not a hundred per cent but it's getting better each week," he said.
"I'm still getting injections heading into the games and I am getting more confident each week. more than what I was a few weeks ago.
"Out on the wing you're not expected to make as many tackles as you would at fullback, getting put in the wing position coming back from injury there is less risk."
The 22-year old says while playing out on the edge is helping in his recovery he is resigned to the idea of playing there while he is at the Eels.
He says after Clint Gutherson, who was favoured at the back by Arthur, was made co-captain of the side he knew his future would be on the wing.
"I've accepted that a while a go. I have got to learn a lot, with my body as well and the physical side of the game," he said.
"Hopefully, I still have 10 or so years left in the game. I've accepted that now especially after he was made captain, he's probably going to be the first pick for fullback with the form he's been in and the impact he's playing with."
But the Tingha product hasn't given up on wearing the No.1 jumper and says he still sees himself as a fullback.
"I don't want to finish my career knowing I didn't have a good crack at it"