Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has pencilled in hotshot rookie Bevan French and the versatile Clinton Gutherson as his fullback and five-eighth for the 2017 season.
Both players were outstanding in Monday’s NRL win over St George Illawarra, with French grabbing a hat-trick of tries and Gutherson enjoying arguably his best game in the halves.
French’s three tries takes him to an impressive 16 tries in just 12 games.
His third was one out of the box, taking a sharp catch from a low-trajectory Brad Takairangi kick from out wide to light up the final game at Pirtek Stadium before it gets rebuilt.
Less than a month after missing out on bringing home star fullback Jarryd Hayne, Arthur revealed French would start next year in the No.1 jumper.
Gutherson is also all but certain to partner suspended playmaker Corey Norman in the halves.
“Definitely (French will) be our fullback next year,” Arthur told Triple M.
“We get a bit of time to work with him in the pre-season. Having two halves that are 93-94 kilos, and good size… we’ve based our season on the back of defence.
“With Gutho there and Normy, hopefully we can work through our pre-season to look to play more football and put some more points on.”
Arthur was full of praise for the pair post-game.
“(French) and Clint Gutherson, every time you tell them something, they make sure they go out of their way to try and improve it,” he said.
“And while ever they keep doing that, they’ll have a long time in the game and a long time at this club.
“(Gutherson) gives himself every chance to get better. He’s the first in to do video, he’s the last off the training paddock all the time.”
Monday’s win comes after five players either signed or re-signed with the club during the week, with more expected to be announced in the near future.
“It was continually reported that we were a basketcase, but we’re not. We’re a strong club. We’re going to make sure we move forward,” Arthur said.
“The fact that they all want to stay… the players sell a team and a club. They’re the ones who talk, they’re the ones who help you recruit other players.”