Eels Blogs

All-in on Gutho

Clint Gutherson moves to five-eighth this week, and for a player who has been shuffled around in various positions throughout his career, I'm willing to bet that's the last move positional move he's going to make.

Parramatta has already signalled Gutherson as one of the players, it's future is going to be built around, by giving him a captaincy role.

My mis-giving with that was I have always hated, and still hate, a fullback as a captain. They are always out of the line, and can't do the on-going communication with the referee that you really want from your leader. They're not in the line, and so they're not going through what every other player in the team is experiencing. I said the same thing about Jarryd Hayne when he had the co-captaincy.

If Gutherson is to be our captain and leader, in my view, he needs to play in the front line, and I think for the good of the team, five-eighth is the position he'll eventually make his own.

Which is not to say, I think he's going to kill it, week-in, week-out.

He'll have his struggles there, as teams work out what he's got in his game, and what he doesn't. However, we've seen enough of Gutherson from the time he had there, and through his fullback game to know that he has a skill-set that is good enough for the position, and I think all Eels fans would believe that he has the mentality to succeed at the position and the willingness to learn, to make it his long-term position.

If we have identified Gutho, as our Cameron Smith-style leader, I think you've just got to go all-in.

This year is obviously at the point where we can take risks, and if the rest of the season, serves to prepare Gutherson for a full-time role there, so he goes into next year with some solid experience under his belt, then it will certainly be a silver lining to whatever happens over the rest of 2018.

That said, we do have to have a little bit of patience, and he'll still be learning the trade next year, so it's important that we finally get the combinations right, and this is where I think we do have the nucleus of a very good spine.

I think for Mitchell Moses to play his best football he has to beat a dominant half. The best games I've seen him play is when he's been dominant, and I think he's got to have the license to use his vision and instinct. When you play with split halves, it necessitates a pretty structured game and I think Moses is best when he's got a bit of freedom. In that sense Gutherson and Moses complement each other. Moses needs to run the show, but you have to accept he'll try some things that don't work. Gutherson will play a lesser-role - he'll be the guy who is tasked with turning an overlap into a try and he does that very well, but he's also far steadier and is likely to be a calming influence on Moses.

However, it also shifts our strengths a little bit. Gutherson's greatest strength as a fullback is his push/support play. We'll get that from him, playing at six as well, so it gives us a bit more license to have a more creative fullback, and that's where Bevan French comes in. French is also a player, who needs to have license to try things, and between Moses and French, the spine has another creativity not to get shackled.

Is Gutherson a better fullback than five-eighth. Undoubtedly, that's the case right now. But roster management is often about putting players in positions that are best for the club (and in this case I believe the long-term future of the player as well).

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  • Out of curiosity Philip where do you see Hayne when he returns ? If it’s fullback , where do you want to see Norman ? 

    • Good post good question, feel like Norman's being slowly worked out of the side. Sort of like when an employer wants to fire an employee but they cant due to legal reasons. 

    • I honestly think Norman's basically gone. As far as I understand his contract was pretty much on unders first-year and then bumped up in subsequent years and that was really on the thinking that by now, he should be an Origin-level player. He's not giving us Origin-level value, and I don't think he will alongside Moses, who I think it is pretty plain to see - the two of them don't gel. They both want to run the show, and that just doesn't make for good chemistry.

      I keep seeing Norman described as a running five-eighth. I don't think he's that at all. I think - like Moses - he is at his best when he's a dominant playmaker. He has a very strong personality, and when he is in the game all of the time and orchestrating the show, that's when he's at his best. His short kicking game is excellent and he has good vision. All that said, I think he just falls short of  being a great seven, because he can freeze up in his decision making and once you work out his dummy, he's not that much of an attacking threat himself because he doesn't have the pace other halves do (I think Sezer has the same limitations).

      If I was pairing Norman, I'd send him back to Broncos and put him alongside Milford. To me, that's a well-balanced pairing because Milford is the player you go to when something is on, otherwise you just let Norman steer you around.

      As for your actual question - yeh, I'd bring him Hayne back at fullback, but it would be on the basis of giving him the rest of this year to see if he's still got it in him to play that role. 

      TBH, I would have waited till Hayne came back and thrown him the six jersey and said to him, haynzy, if you expect to get a million dollars a year ever again, this is the only position you're going to do it in. I'd still like to see what a fully motivated, Jarryd Hayne could do as a six, especially playing alongside a quality seven (which I still rate Moses as). I don't want to see the club totally write off the rest of the year,  but I would like to see us not be in the position where we're kind of wondering about who can play where.

      • Broncos are struggling without a proper 7 and Norman is the perfect fit, we should try and offload him this year with a potential player swap. 

      • Sorry Phil, I agree on many things you have said but I believe you have missed the most important about Guth staying as a 5/8.......we have an outstanding young 5/8 in Salmon and a wonderful opportunity to blood him.......BA is missing an opportunity to do this......that's not to say Guth wont be successful, he is such a good footballer he will make a fist of anything (yes even hooker).

        BA cannot afford to miss an opportunity!

        Taka  has no long term future in the club and would be better giving up his spot for Norman or Guth, don't really care how that works. Moses does need a direct running 5/8 to compliment his playmaking, Norman has no vision in the playmaking sense and that is why he has failed, he can still do a job from fullback or centre but he is best being swapped out. I agree a pairing with Milford would be a possibility for Bennett to steal a premiership this year......I would swap him for one of Brisbane's young forwards (I doubt he would let junior Pengai leave, but who knows).....If Bellamy is coming in next year Bennett could do anything to win a premiership this year!

        Back to Salmon, he is going to be outstanding and your idea with Guth has no suitable long term advantages, watching Guth at the moment, his heart is strong but he is still lacking confidence in that knee....he could go anytime!

        Jarryd Hayne has failed as a 5/8 at every level and will never have a work rate suitable.....he is going to be a winger and if he regains full fitness maybe a fullback, but a hip flexor means a loss of power, Hayne has not powered through a tackle since his return to NRL.....all his instinctive abilities are still there but he needs to recover not only aerobic fitness but injury complications and I don't think he will. That said I hope I am wrong.

        Seems like you have been away all year and haven't really grasped our problems.

    • I'd leave Norman at fullback
      Put Hayne to the wing, he won't be match fit to play fullback anyhow
      George Jennings to the centre
      And Takairangi can play at 13
      Brown to the front row with Alvaro

      1: C Norman
      2: B French
      3: M Jennings
      4: G Jennings
      5: J Hayne
      6: C Gutherson
      7: M Moses
      8: D Alvaro
      9: K Pritchard
      10: N Brown
      11: M Mau
      12: M Nuikore
      13: B Takairangi

      14: T Moeroa
      15: S Matagi
      16: S Vave
      17: R Stone

      That's my side when everyone comes back in a couple of weeks
      • Taka is not a middle forward, he can only be on the edge. Utility value of the bench is best for him.

        Please understand 13 is not the old lock, it is virtually a 3rd prop!

    • Will work I just think we now have a fullback problem both Norman and Haybe can be very lazy and French is not getting the gig unless we sign Holmes
    • Taka is a big body to play at lock but plus he has a good offload in him, really we need to be scoring points
      • Not big or tough enough, no point in having an offload if no one is following through......

        Have a comparative check of the No 13's around the clubs.

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