Eels axe Burt for game against Manly - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels axe Burt for game against Manly

By Liam FitzGibbon 17/07/2008 07:45:21 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta coach Michael Hagan has confirmed the axing of Luke Burt for Friday night's match with NRL leaders Manly, admitting the fullback's recent form has not been up to scratch.

The Eels are desperate for a win at Brookvale Oval, having slipped out of the top eight after back-to-back losses against Penrith and South Sydney.

While Hagan was on Thursday confident the Eels were capable of springing an upset, he also confirmed speculation Burt would be dropped, with Jarryd Hayne moving to fullback and Tony Williams coming onto the wing.

Hayne publicly stated his desire to move off the wing after the loss to the Panthers but Hagan denied the team changes were a response to those calls.

"It wasn't based on his request for that to happen," Hagan said of Hayne.

"It was based on Luke not getting the job done as well as we think we can."

"I think probably his form has been down to fair."

Hagan played down suggestions Friday night's clash was "do-or-die" for the Eels, and believed they were playing well enough to turn their fortunes but simply needed a change in luck.

"I don't think it's quite at that stage (do-or-die)," Hagan said.

"My thoughts would be we'd probably have to win five of our last eight (matches).

"I don't think we're playing that badly, but we're not playing well enough over eighty minutes to guarantee that you're going to win the game and I think that's what nearly every team is struggling with at the moment.

"... An ounce of luck would be good too, we've got a couple of (bad) calls and things like that in the game at the moment are becoming pretty crucial to your chances."

Manly, who are on a six-game winning streak, head into the match full of confidence and with only one minor injury concern over halfback Matt Orford (groin).

Their thrashing of fellow high-fliers Cronulla last week sent shockwaves through the competition, though Hagan wasn't reading too much into the performance.

"They were awesome by virtue of the possession they had and the dangerous players that are able to hurt you in that good end of the field," Hagan said.

"They got penalties, and they got six-to-gos and they got repeat sets, they got all sorts of stuff happening in that game so hopefully their luck won't be as fortuitous tomorrow night."

With Eels five-eighth Feleti Mateo out with a knee injury, youngster Kris Keating will make his first NRL start, with Hagan confident he could handle the big occasion.

"He's a really dedicated young bloke and he understands the role that he's got, it won't be through lack of trying that he lets us down," Hagan said.

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