Marata Niukore could shape as Parramatta’s new Mr Fix It, declaring he is ready to step up in the centres for the next month if need be.
Niukore was superb filling in for Waqa Blake in Eels’ win over Melbourne on Thursday night, regularly cutting down Justin Olam in defence.
Blake is expected to be out for up to six weeks, with the Eels desperately lacking depth in their backline.
And it’s there that second-rower Niukore could step in, given Michael Oldfield won’t be back for at least another fortnight.
“If it’s what I have to do for the team, I will definitely do it,” Nikore said.
“All I have to do is repeat what I did (against Melbourne) for the next couple of weeks.
“Having Fergo and Dylan as good defenders helped me a lot. We were lucky we had the main sessions to form those combinations in defence.”
The Eels’ other options include Haze Dunster and Will Penisini, but both are young and would have been thrown into the deep end against Melbourne.
Blake’s four-to-six-weeks calf injury in training has come at a tough time for the Eels with Oldfield’s problem.
They not only lost Michael Jennings to a positive performance-enhancing drugs test late last year, but also opted against retaining Brad Takairangi.
Takairangi regularly filled in for the Eels’ centres and backline, despite making the move to the forwards in the back half of his career.
Niukore however could be the answer.
Thursday’s win was the first time the 24-year-old has started in the centres in his NRL career, having filled in there just once before mid-match against Canberra in 2019.
But he did largely play out wide for the Warriors’ under-20s between 2014 and 2016, making him a potential solution for Arthur out wide.
“I pretty much played all my under-20s in the centres,” he said.
“It wasn’t until I came to Parra in 2016 that Brad thought I was more of a second-rower.
“So when I got the heads up on Monday I was confident I could do the job.
“All I had to do (on Thursday) was get up and Fergo had the trust in me for him to make the one-on-one tackles.”