Eels No.1 spot up for grabs

Daily Mercury - - SPORT LEAGUE/UNION - — Si­mon Bruns­don

RUGBY LEAGUE: Whether Jar­ryd Hayne lands at Par­ra­matta or not, there’s a bat­tle on for the Eels’ No.1 jumper that is threat­en­ing to take cen­tre stage out west.

Ru­mours con­tinue to link the club’s one-time favourite son Hayne to a move back to the blue and gold, de­spite the Eels re­fus­ing to shed any light on the mat­ter.

Club boss Bernie Gurr re­it­er­ated yes­ter­day he would not be con­firm­ing or deny­ing in­ter­est in the multi-code star.

“We don’t dis­cuss our re­cruit­ment strat­egy pub­licly. This is not the fo­rum to­day,” Gurr said.

But Hayne or no Hayne, coach Brad Arthur has a headache on who to hand the full­back spot to in 2018.

Clint Guther­son and Be­van French have their hands high in the air, and are locked in an in­tense bat­tle for the cus­to­dian po­si­tion.

Guther­son was a rev­e­la­tion at full­back this year when he was thrown into the po­si­tion to re­place the in­jured French in round six.

He even­tu­ally stole the jumper from French al­to­gether and was go­ing great guns un­til a se­ri­ous knee in­jury ended his sea­son in round 20.

He only be­gan run­ning again last week, but is gun­ning for a round one re­turn and wants to re­claim the No.1 spot.

But French has some­thing to say about that.

“There’s been a lit­tle bit (of ban­ter) ... he only just started run­ning this week so I’ve given him the heads up that I’m a few weeks ahead of him,” French said.

“But know­ing him he’ll come back and prob­a­bly flog ev­ery­one in fit­ness like he does. I may as well en­joy the ban­ter while I can while he can’t run.

“Which­ever po­si­tion I’m given I’ll do my best in that po­si­tion ... I’m not too fussed to be hon­est.”

Whether French will openly ad­mit it or not, his de­sired po­si­tion is full­back.

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