National Rugby League Premiership...
By W D Nicolson - January 18, 2017
First the Eels secured Bevan French for another two seasons, now they'll turn to him at fullback despite picking up Josh Hoffman.
"Bevan will get the first opportunity at fullback," Brad Arthur to Sky Sports Radio.
"He's trained all pre-season there."
And with that confirmation, Josh Hoffman's chances of starting 2017 as a fullback went from slim to none.Eels secure Bevan French till end of 2019 season. Details: https://t.co/e8ZhnHtp0s #blueandgold pic.twitter.com/JkHQqsZj3A— Parramatta Eels (@TheParraEels) October 25, 2016
In fact, the rest of the SMH article suggests that Clinton Gutherson would be next in line if French doesn't work out - not Hoffman.
Gutherson looks set to partner Corey Norman in the halves (unless veteran half Jeff Robson is preferred, meaning Gutherson would shift to centre/wing) for Parramatta, with French slotting in at fullback.
That means that Semi Radradra and Michael Jennings will remain partnered on the left edge, with Brad Takairangi looking like having Hoffman outside him on the right.
Now Hoffman played in the centres for the Titans last year but Arthur is a Takairangi fan and Hoffman's work-rate is going to get better utilised on the wing than it was at centre.
The reason this is intriguing decision is French made quite the impact on the wing last year - you know a 1000 tries in 9 games or whatever it was - and like Valentine Holmes, I actually think sometimes it's better not to move a freakish tryscorer from the wing and shift him to fullback too early in their career - because they get tend to get bashed on kick-returns.
Let them do their thing on the wing - especially if it benefits the team.
That all said, things aren't looking too bad for Parramatta entering 2017... then again, when you look at that average forward pack and sheer lack of a quality #9... it tempers expectations a little.