Finch ruled out for Eels - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Finch ruled out for Eels

By Liam FitzGibbon 27/08/2008 04:37:23 PM Comments (0)

With just seven first grade appearances to his name, teenager Kris Keating has been handed the task of steering Parramatta towards the NRL finals in place of injured halfback Brett Finch.

Keating will play at No.7 in the Eels' crucial clash with St George Illawarra at ANZ Stadium on Saturday after Finch was ruled out with a cheekbone injury.

It will be the first match Finch has missed this season, prompting coach Michael Hagan to shift Keating from five-eighth to halfback and Feleti Mateo from lock to No.6.

The Eels need to win at least one of their remaining two matches to have any chance of reaching the finals and Hagan has no doubt 19-year-old Keating can put them in a strong position heading into the final round.

"He's been excellent, I thought he was nearly our player last week against the Dogs in what he did," Hagan said of Keating.

"It's no coincidence that the team has been running a lot better with him at six."

Keating was confident his role wouldn't change too much from recent weeks but acknowledged he would need to be more dominant in Finch's absence.

"He (Finch) is a big talker a few of us boys will have to step up and be pretty dominant this week," Keating said.

"It is probably my biggest test this week, but as Hagesy said, I've just got to do the little things I've been doing but be a little bit more dominant because Finchy's gone."

Keating said it had been intimidating at first trying to lead around his more experienced teammates including Nathan Cayless and Nathan Hindmarsh.

But he said the senior players had also helped make his transition into first grade a lot easier.

"They give you a lot of confidence when you do something right, and they're into you when you do something wrong," Keating said.

"I'm really enjoying it (first grade) now and getting a feel for it.

"Playing a few games in a row has actually given me a bit more confidence week by week."

Finch suffered his injury in a head clash with Bulldogs winger Matt Utai late in last weekend's 26-12 win to the Eels.

Hagan said the former NSW halfback should be ready to return for the Eels last-round match against the Warriors, with a finals spot likely to be on offer in the match.

"It doesn't require surgery, hopefully that will settle down and allow him to play the last game but we'll have to work around that this week," Hagan said.

"I think he's been there in every game for us and he's done very well in everything he's done so I guess you've got to share the workload sometimes and this week's an opportunity for another bloke to step in."

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