Eels lose Finch, Mateo into halves

Feleti Mateo Parra EelsEels rookie Kris Keating moves into the no.7 spot for the missing Brett Finch this weekend – but Parramatta coach Michael Hagan have revealed Feleti Mateo remains the key to beating an in-form Saints outfit this weekend at ANZ Stadium. The reliable Brett Finch has been ruled-out of the team with a broken cheekbone in which he picked up during the last Round win against the Bulldogs.

This is the only game Finch has missed in 2008, the Eels sure to miss their vocal halfback in a game they simply must win to ensure qualification for the Top 8 finals series.

“It’s come as a bit of a surprise to be honest. It’s been sore but I didn’t think it was broken,” Finch said. “I did it some stage during the second half against the Dogs. The disappointing thing is that after the season we’ve had, it’s happened now, right when we have put ourselves back in the hunt. But I’m confident the boys can get the job done without me.”

Parramatta coach Michael Hagan confirmed 19-year-old Kris Keating, with only 7 first grade games under his belt, will run on in the No. 7 jumper against the Dragons and Hagan said he has supreme faith in the upcoming rookie.

“He is a confident kid who has been playing really well at six for us,” Hagan said. “Defensively, he is very good and the rest of the boys have a lot of confidence in him so I don’t have any problem with him there.

“Losing Finchy is disappointing but you just have to get on with it. He doesn’t need to have surgery so he is some chance of playing next week.”

With Finch missing and Keating moving to no.7, talented Eels backrower Feleti Mateo moves back into the havels; taking up the pivot role once again.

Hagan says he will be looking to Mateo to be the dominant force for the Eels around the ruck. “He had a bit to say at training this morning, which was really positive, and I expect him to really take charge with Finchy not there,” Hagan said.

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