Israel Folau’s younger brother John is in contention to make his NRL debut in a Parramatta’s backline decimated by injury.
Coach Brad Arthur must choose replacements after centre Beau Champion and winger Semi Radradra both suffered serious injuries in the Eels’ 32-12 loss to the Bulldogs on Friday night.
The Eels confirmed on Sunday that scans showed both Champion (ACL) and Radradra (medial) sustained knee ligament damage.
The club did not give a time frame for their return – saying only they’d been ruled out for this week so far – amid speculation Champion’s season could be over and Radradra could miss a month.
John Folau, the 20-year-old younger brother of code-hopping Wallabies star Israel, will be bidding to make his first grade debut against the Warriors on Saturday while Vai Toutai, Ryan Morgan and Bureta Faraimo are also in the running to plug the backline holes.
A promising centre, Folau came off the bench for the Eels in their final pre-season trial match against Penrith and also played for the club at the Auckland Nines.
The Eels had a horror night against the Bulldogs, with halfback Chris Sandow (ankle) and rising forward Tepai Moeroa (shoulder) also in doubt for Saturday’s clash in Auckland.
The Eels this week hope to finally gain the services of veteran prop Richie Fa’aoso who has been battling for a clearance by the NRL.
Fa’aoso has not played since the 2013 preliminary final when he fractured his neck while playing for Manly but he has been medically cleared to play and signed a one-year deal with Parramatta.
The NRL has so far refused to register his contract over insurance concerns.
Last week the Eels cleared what they believed was the final hurdle when they obtained an insurance policy. However the NRL said the cover was not adequate.
“I think everyone wants (Fa’aoso) to play but we also want to protect Richie and make sure he has the right cover like every other player does,” NRL head of football Todd Greenberg told Triple M on Sunday.
“It’s important people know we’ve met with Richie. I’ve personally met with Richie and spoken to him face-to-face. I’d love to see him play but only under the right conditions.
“He has to have the same insurance tha’s available for every other NRL player in the game. And that’s currently being worked through.
“I understand Parramatta want him to play and I understand Richie wants to play but we have a duty of care to our players to make sure they have the right cover.
“That piece of work is coming to the end point and hopefully we’ll be able to give Richie an answer this week.”