Eels fretting over French’s finals fitness

Parramatta are sweating on the fitness of Bevan French as they gear up for their date with September.

The Eels fullback was taken from the field five minutes before halftime in Thursday’s win over Gold Coast after struggling with a niggling hamstring complaint over the last fortnight.

French first suffered the injury against Canterbury two weeks ago, missed last week’s loss to Newcastle and could be set for more time on the sidelines.

“It was just tight. We could have run the gauntlet and kept him out there and the risk of injury is greater,” coach Brad Arthur said.

“There was no point.

“I don’t know where that leaves us for next week. There’s not much in it but at this stage we’ve got other blokes that can do a job.”

The loss of French would be a massive blow for the Eels just three weeks out from their first finals appearance in eight seasons.

First-choice fullback Clint Gutherson has already been ruled out for the season with a knee injury.

Will Smith, who came on to replace French against the Titans, made the most of his opportunity, scoring two tries including a brilliant individual effort in which he shrugged off four defenders.

Arthur said French was racing the clock for next week’s crunch clash against Brisbane which will likely decide if they finish in the top four.

“I’ll be guided by what our medical department say but we don’t want to put Bevan at risk,” Arthur said.

“The thing is we have to show a bit of belief and confidence in Will that he can get the job done.

“He did a good job tonight and we’ll give him more time during the week to work on a few areas in his game. But if Bevan’s not right we won’t play him.”

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