Pritchard likely to fill Peats' spot

NRL. Round 12. Sporting Bet stadium, Penrith.Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels. Nathan Peats goes down injuredFriday 30th May, 2014Photos: Anthony Johnson

NRL. Round 12. Sporting Bet stadium, Penrith.Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels. Nathan Peats goes down injuredFriday 30th May, 2014Photos: Anthony Johnson

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 03: Kaysa Pritchard of the NSW holds aloft the Darren Lockyer Trophy following the U20's State of Origin match between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Sportingbet Stadium on May 3, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images) kaysa pritchard, nsw under-20s, Picture: getty Images

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 03: Kaysa Pritchard of the NSW holds aloft the Darren Lockyer Trophy following the U20's State of Origin match between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Sportingbet Stadium on May 3, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images) kaysa pritchard, nsw under-20s, Picture: getty Images

NRL. Round 12. Sporting Bet stadium, Penrith.Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels. Nathan Peats goes down injuredFriday 30th May, 2014Photos: Anthony Johnson

NRL. Round 12. Sporting Bet stadium, Penrith.Penrith Panthers vs Parramatta Eels. Nathan Peats goes down injuredFriday 30th May, 2014Photos: Anthony Johnson

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 03: Kaysa Pritchard of the NSW holds aloft the Darren Lockyer Trophy following the U20's State of Origin match between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Sportingbet Stadium on May 3, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images) kaysa pritchard, nsw under-20s, Picture: getty Images

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 03: Kaysa Pritchard of the NSW holds aloft the Darren Lockyer Trophy following the U20's State of Origin match between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Sportingbet Stadium on May 3, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images) kaysa pritchard, nsw under-20s, Picture: getty Images

EARLIER this year under-20s hooker Kaysa Pritchard was the student learning from the teacher Nathan Peats.

After Friday night, his graduation is likely to come earlier than expected.

A visit to the medical specialist this week will probably confirm Peats will miss the rest of the season after injuring the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee following Friday night's loss against Penrith.

Pritchard, the NSW under-20s captain, is the man most likely to fill the shoes of Peats who was the leading contender for "buy of the year" after a great start for the blue and gold.

Recently Pritchard said the No.1 thing Peats had taught him was how to play tough.

On Friday night, Peats demonstrated that again — playing through the pain barrier to eke out 34 tackles in 53 minutes.

It was from a dismal first half — being forced to defend as the Panthers took control of the local derby.

Coach Brad Arthur said it was easy to pinpoint where the game was won and lost.

"We didn't turn up in that first little bit; we had to make 90 tackles extra in the first half," he said.

"When you're completing at 56 per cent it's very hard to come up with repeated sets in defence and that was the difference."

The loss of Peats will be offset by the return of NSW fullback Jarryd Hayne as the Eels return to play the North Queensland Cowboys at Pirtek Stadium on Friday night — a ground where they are undefeated in 2014.

Eels v Cowboys, Friday, Pirtek Stadium, 7.40pm.

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