It was confirmed this morning that Parramatta Eels fullback Clint Gutherson suffered a season ending knee injury following yesterday's victory against the Wests Tigers.
Speaking to the media today, Blue & Gold Head Coach Brad Arthur says the loss of Gutherson was devastating news, especially for Gutherson who Arthur labelled as the Eels "best player” this year.
“It is not great for the team but more so for Clint himself as an individual and as a person. I know nothing is fair in life at times and it is probably one of those injuries that it is not fair for him especially with how hard he worked in the pre-season and got himself into a really good position to play consistent football,” Arthur said.
“He has probably been the most consistent in our team this year and a lot of the position we are in right now is probably put down to Gutho.”
“He is disappointed and has some head noises but at the end of the day it is what it is and we can’t do much about it except support him,” Arthur said.
“We will find a role for him, where we can try and take the next part of his game to another level, so we will give him a job once he is okay and on top of his rehab hopefully at the back end of the year.”
Gutherson suffered a season ending ACL injury in 2015 whilst playing for the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and Arthur said that his past experience along with the re-assurance of his future will allow for Gutherson to only return better and stronger.
“He knows what is ahead of him and he knows that he is only young and is also assured that he is at our Club for the next couple of years and we want to look at keeping him well past 2019. He is part of our future moving forward,” Arthur said.
“He is young, he has his best football ahead of him and these sort of things to a young person like him can only make him better and stronger.”
With Gutherson ruled out for the remainder of the season, it will provide young Bevan French with an opportunity to reclaim the number one jersey.
However there is still plenty of depth in the Eels outside back ranks.
“From a team perspective, we are quite fortunate that Bevan, at the start of the year was our first choice fullback, and when he got injured, we were devastated that he went down and it gave Clint an opportunity at fullback. Bevan has been on the wing, scored a few tries and regained a bit of confidence.” Arthur said.
“Bevan will go straight back to fullback. I am not sure how far away Josh Hoffman is but we have Kirisome Auva’a, George Jennings is there and Nathan Davis too so we have a few options.”
“Because we have some depth there, it creates an opportunity for someone else.” Arthur added.
“Clint got his opportunity because of Bevan’s misfortune and Bevan get his opportunity now to try and do his best at fullback. We are reasonably healthy in that aspect, that we have blokes to come back this week that will fill the void.”
The Eels will face the Brisbane Broncos this Friday afternoon (28 July) at ANZ Stadium, and backing up from a win over the Wests Tigers, Arthur is hoping a strong Blue & Gold Army will be there to support the team.
The Head Coach knows the clash against the Broncos will be a good gauge for the side heading into the back end of the year.
“We are looking forward to the Broncos, it is a real good test for us to see what we need to work on to get right at the back end of the year. We had 30, 000 there yesterday for the Wests Tigers game, even though it was the Tigers home game, a big contingency of them were Parra supporters. We would love nothing more than to get a big crowd get right behind the boys this Friday night,” Arthur said.
“They are a great side and I think Boyd might be back this week. Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt are just starting to get their combination back and the last couple of weeks they have played plenty of football, moving the ball around so it should make for a real entertaining game.” He added of the opposition.
“They will test us with the ball but then also defensively they are a team that keeps turning up and they don’t give you many opportunities so it will be a good gauge for where we are at.”