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Eels head into semi with winger shortage

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3rd October, 2020
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Parramatta will head into next weekend’s do-or-die NRL semi-final without Fijian flyer Maika Sivo and with a question mark over opposite winger Blake Ferguson.

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur admits losing Sivo for the remainder of the NRL season is a blow to the Eels.

Sivo injured a knee in the tenth minute of Saturday’s 36-24 loss to Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium, with Arthur confirming after the match the MCL injury means the Fijian’s year is almost certainly done.

The Eels are also sweating on the fitness of opposite winger Blake Ferguson after the NSW State of Origin representative limped off in the second half, also with a knee injury.

Ferguson will undergo scans on Sunday and Arthur believes he could still be a chance for next weekend’s do-or-die semi-final against either Newcastle or South Sydney.

Sivo is the Eels’ leading try scorer in 2020 with 15 and Arthur admitted his absence will be felt for the remainder of the finals.

“It’s a massive blow for the team but we’ve got other blokes in there to step up,” Arthur said.

“It’s sad for Maika. He’s worked hard and it was his birthday…that’s what it is mate. It’s footy.”

The Eels will also be sweating on the availability of backrower Marata Niukore, who was placed on report for a crusher tackle on Storm young gun Tino Fa’asuamaleaui in the first half.

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If charged Niukore would face a minimum two-game ban under the NRL’s crackdown on the crusher tackle, meaning he may not play again in 2020 unless the Eels reach the grand final.

Despite the setbacks and the defeat, Arthur felt his team had shown they are mentally tough enough to challenge for this year’s premiership.

“We showed it tonight yeah, definitely,” Arthur said of the Storm loss.

“When they got to 18 points out in front. We kept fighting.

“I definitely think we are (tough enough).

“We’ve just got to be smarter. Got to get those moments right.”

© AAP