Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has identified emerging prop Daniel Alvaro as the man to replace the departed Junior Paulo, who was granted an immediate release from his NRL contract.
Arthur confirmed Alvaro, 23, would start in Paulo’s place in Monday’s clash with Newcastle.
“(Paulo is) a loss, but it’s an opportunity for Daniel,” he said.
“The way Daniel finished last year, we thought we’d get plenty of footy out of him this year and he’s played a handful of games for us.
“One thing about Daniel Alvaro is he works really hard and he’s someone that the boys like playing with. It’s always an opportunity for someone else.”
Arthur denied commenting on speculation fullback Michael Gordon could join Paulo and Nathan Peats as a third player to leave on a mid-season move, this time to the Sydney Roosters.
“I’ve made a habit of not talking about contracts and that’s just speculation,” he said.
The Eels, who officially remain in sixth spot on the ladder until the club responds to salary cap breaches next month, take on the last-placed Knights, who are aiming to avoid a sixth straight defeat.
If they lose again, it will be the third time in three seasons that the Knights have suffered five or mores losses in a row, however Arthur is wary of a wounded outfit.
“They’ve definitely got some good young kids that they’re blooding at the moment,” he said.
“(But) if you have a look at their forward pack this week – I’m not sure if Jeremy Smith is playing – but it’s probably their strongest pack that they’ve had for quite some time.
“They get a couple of blokes back. So in front of their home crowd, I’m sure they’re coming out ready to have a crack.”
Youngsters Cory Denniss, David Bhana, Jaelen Feeney, Pat Mata’utia and Sam Mataora have all been recalled to a 19-man Knights squad.
For the Eels, Vai Toutai comes in for NSW State of Origin centre Michael Jennings.
The Eels must win 12 of their final 13 remaining games to make the NRL finals.
STATS THAT MATTER
* Newcastle have won seven of their past eight encounters against Parramatta, but were last-start 28-22 losers in round seven 2015
* Parramatta have won just seven of 21 Monday night matches, dating back to mid-2011. They’ve conceded over 18 points in 19 of those games
* Beau Scott will suit up against the Knights for the first time since leaving the club.