Is it a rumour to throw Manly off as they prepare to take on the Eels at Brookvale Oval, or is Eels coach Michael Hagan serious about possibly dropping Luke Burt from the Parramatta lineup for tomorrow nights match? Why else would the Eels be dropping one of their form players as they continue their search for spark in 2008?
Currently the NRL’s leading pointscorer so far in 2008 – sources suggest Burt may lineup for feeder club Wentworthville this weekend with NSW State of Origin back Jarryd Hayne named in the custodian role. While Hagan and the Eels are desperately search for answers, surely dropping Burt would be the last thing on the clubs mind?
Apart from leading the point scoring in the NRL this year, Burt has hardly put a foot wrong at the back. One of the safest under the high ball, the goal kicking Burt as not only been defensively sound, his backup and support play has been a stand-out and in a sometimes lethargic Eels outfit – Burt has been a shining light.
Rookie Tony Williams – comes back into the side on the wing with centre Krisnan Inu the new goalkicker. Williams will face his new club Manly, as he tries to help the Eels out of a hole that gets bigger by the week.
Hagan was reluctant to confirm the story, but confirm he was considering tweaking the side.
Manly’s coaching staff were awake to a possible Burt shift and realise the urgency the Eels should show in a clash that could prove critical to the Eels Top 8 chances.
A frustrated Hayne claimed just last week he wanted to approach Hagan about shifting from the wing. While Hayne may have been seeking out the fullback role, the NSW representative should consider himself lucky to be part of the side. Sources suggested in recent weeks, Hayne was being watched closely by trainers and needed a visible lift in his game to keep things on track. Should Burt be pushed aside, the pressure will squarely be on the new custodian to keep things tight week in week out.
The NSW winger said he wanted to return to full-back, a position he played last season when Burt was out with a knee injury.
“I don’t want to be on the wing,” Hayne said.
“I couldn’t do anything out there. I will have to have a talk to ‘Hages’ and see what he can come up with to get me off the wing.”
Parramatta have been the competition’s great disappointments after coming within one game of the grand final last season.
The Eels have lacked consistency and remain outside the top eight.
On current form, even if Parramatta sneak into the finals, they would be fodder for the NRL’s powerhouse clubs.
In form Eels five-eighth Feleti Mateo is out of the Brookvale Oval match with a knee injury.
Scans revealed a minor medial ligament strain and he is expected back in round 20.