NRL Rd 8 - Eels v Cowboys
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 03: Clinton Gutherson of the Eels makes a break during the round eight NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the North Queensland Cowboys at Bankwest Stadium on July 03, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Parramatta Eels' coach Brad Arthur has admitted there was more than just being rested to Clint Gutherson not playing in Friday's clash with the Penrith Panthers.

Arthur's team selection has been the topic of hot debate in rugby league circles this week, with all of Gutherson, Dylan Brown, Mitchell Moses, Junior Paulo, Isaiah Papali'i Marata Niukore, Nathan Brown and Waqa Blake rested.

Gutherson though, failed to finish last weekend's dramatic contest with the Melbourne Storm, which resulted in an unlikely win for the understrength Eels.

He was taken from the field just minutes from fulltime having seemingly picked up a knee injury.

Arthur has confirmed the injury is not serious in nature when speaking to the media on Thursday afternoon, but Gutherson wouldn't have been 100% if he had of been asked to play this weekend.

"Yeah, he has bone bruising. If push came to shove, if we really really needed him to play this week, he would have played, but he wouldn't have been 100%," Arthur said.

Arthur said Gutherson had actually been pestering him during the week in an attempt to play from the bench on Friday against the Panthers. It's a game the Eels must win if they are hopeful of qualifying for the finals, although even then they would still need the Manly Sea Eagles to fall short against the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday.

"He will be right. He was pestering me during the week about letting him sit on the bench so he could help the young blokes out. That's great leadership from a captain and I wouldn't expect anything different," Arthur said.

"He competes with everything. I tried to make sure he had a day off today for the captain's run, but he was the first one here."

The Eels, provided they don't sneak into the top four, will welcome back all their rested stars for an elimination final next weekend, likely against the eighth-placed finishing team. If the Cronulla Sharks beat the Melbourne Storm this evening, they will lock up eighth, otherwise, the Gold Coast Titans will have a chance to steal the final spot in the knockout stages when they play the Warriors on Sunday.

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