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Boom rookie Talagi wants to stay at Eels: coach Arthur

Jasper Bruce -

Blaize Talagi wants to remain at Parramatta, under-pressure coach Brad Arthur insists, saying his decision to start the rookie at fullback shows he is confident in the backing of Eels management.

With only four first-grade appearances to his name, Talagi will replace the injured Clint Gutherson for Parramatta's clash against Brisbane on Friday, when the 12th-placed Eels will look to reignite their NRL season.

Talagi has the chance to hold the No.1 jersey for an extended run, with Gutherson's knee injury set to also sideline him from matches against heavyweights Brisbane, Melbourne and Cronulla.

The crunch clashes could double as chances for Talagi to spruik his wares to NRL rivals. 

The 19-year-old has reportedly failed to trigger an option in his contract to remain at Parramatta for 2025, so can field offers from around the league.

But the Eels remain in negotiations with the man Arthur has already touted as Gutherson's potential long-term successor at fullback.

"All the indications from us are that he is the future of the club," Arthur said.

"I've had a conversation with Blaize - he's only a kid, so I try not to have too many of these conversations with him and just keep them footy related - but the only question that I've asked him is: does he want to be at the club? He told me he does. That's half the battle.

"The club's been working with his management trying to get something sorted. Both parties have been working hard at that.

"He wants to be here so it will sort itself out."

Even as their season has faltered, the Eels have worked hard to find first-grade opportunities for the inexperienced Talagi, deploying him at five-eighth, centre, from the bench, and now fullback across his first five games.

"We've shown him how important he is to the club, we've shown him how ... trying to put his development is at the forefront for us." Arthur said.

The Eels have lost four of their last five games on the back of missing finals last season, prompting speculation over Arthur's future at the club he has coached for 11 seasons.

But the 49-year-old said the decision to risk Talagi in a crucial position proved he still had the Eels' support.

"(The speculation) doesn't bother me," he said.

"I know I've got (the Eels') support and I 100 per cent mean that. I'm grateful for it. 

"It allows me still to be able to coach and not coach scared - and put people in the team like Blaize at fullback this week, knowing that's what's best for the club."

In Gutherson's absence, Dylan Brown will share the captaincy with Junior Paulo as he lines up at halfback for what could be the last time with Mitch Moses a chance to return from his foot fracture for next week's clash against Melbourne in Magic Round.

"When I told (Brown) about being captain, he couldn't get the smile off his face," Arthur said.

Jasper Bruce - AAP

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