The Eels may have been riding high in the wake of their result against Penrith on Friday night, but those celebrations were cut short by the news that star halfback Mitchell Moses will miss at least a month with a broken finger.
With their season in the balance, the Moses news puts the spotlight on young half Jakob Arthur, who has experienced mixed fortunes on the field for the blue and gold.
Though he has hardly been to blame for the Eels’ inconsistencies this year, Arthur received a concerning response from the crowd during last week’s loss to Brisbane.
The young half was booed by fans when his name was shown on the big screen, before again being booed when he took the field in the second half. Combined with the threats made towards Moses’ family just a few weeks ago, it’s a worrying environment for any young half.
But given Arthur has only played six games this year and has done little wrong with his limited opportunities, it appears he has been scapegoated for the team’s waning form – possibly due to little more than his relationship with club coach Brad Arthur.
If anything, Moses’ injury gives Jakob Arthur the perfect chance to silence his critics while helping Parramatta build on a much-needed win – and he has the full support of his teammates.
“If (a player) knows the game plan better than anyone, it’s Jake,” Junior Paulo told ABC.
“He’s been around for years now. He puts a lot of time into his game, that’s something we can’t fault him on. He certainly has the effort and ability to steer us around.”
Parramatta now face a number of significant games in their hunt for a top four spot. They’ll face the Broncos, Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles and Storm in their run home – a bunch of key clashes that will ultimately decide the make-up of the top eight.
Despite the diagnosis, Moses initially hid the extent of his injury from the playing group.
“We thought it was just a broken fingernail at half-time,” Paulo said.
“We were all giving it to him after the game.”