Captain's sacrifice so new Eels coach can keep Talagi

George ClarkeAAP
Tue, 9 July 2024 2:02PM
Parramatta's Blaize Talagi has managed nine tries in 11  games in his debut NRL season. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)Parramatta's Blaize Talagi has managed nine tries in 11 games in his debut NRL season. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Parramatta captain Clint Gutherson is willing to sacrifice his place at fullback if it means incoming Eels coach Jason Ryles can hang on to teenage ace Blaize Talagi.

Ryles was named as Brad Arthur's long-term replacement on Monday, penning a four-year deal to coach the Eels from the start of next year.

The 45-year-old Ryles, currently an assistant to Craig Bellamy at the Melbourne Storm, faces a bevy of crucial contract calls in his first year as Eels coach.Several of Parramatta's top earners, including Gutherson, 30-year-old prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard and five-eighth Dylan Brown, can speak to rival clubs come November 1.

But Talagi, who shunned the chance to take up an extension option with the Eels earlier this year, is the most pressing.

Viewed as a fullback - and a priority retention target for the Eels - Talagi has scored nine tries in 11 games in his debut NRL season.

He has primarily played on the wing and fullback, leaving Gutherson's grip on the No.1 jersey in doubt.

"Everyone is on notice now, which is exciting as well, but we're going to have to sort of have a big change going into pre-season, and I'm sure a lot will change," Gutherson said.

"I couldn't care less (where I play), I've said it my whole career.

"I just love playing, whether it's off the bench, on the wing, anywhere. I just love playing footy, and from the get-go I've always said I'll move if the coach thinks it's right.

"That's another thing for the new staff to come in and sort of make a decision on.

"There's a lot of older boys there that might get a tap on the shoulder, might not, it's just the way it is, and you have to deal with it.

"I'm no different to every other player here - if they want me to move position, I'm more than happy to."

Gutherson said it was natural for Ryles to want to lead a shake-up of the Eels roster after the power game favoured by Arthur went out of fashion and the club's results went downhill.

"I think we do (need to modernise). We've missed the finals last year and we're sitting at the wrong end again this year," Gutherson said.

"The results probably speak for themselves that we do need to change our style, because we haven't been playing finals footy.

"The game changes a lot, very quickly, year-to-year, and if you don't adjust and don't change it you get left behind, and that could be the reason for the last couple of years."

Meanwhile, Campbell-Gillard said he would seek out Ryles to understand if his future lay at the club.

Both he and Junior Paulo are props who command large chunks of the Eels' salary cap, and the club's plight this year has highlighted the need for Parramatta to bolster their stocks in the outside backs.

"I don't know what Jason wants," Campbell-Gillard said.

"I guess I'll have a conversation around that, whatever that is, and then we'll move forward from that."

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  • Love Gutho. A future coach somwhere IMO.

  • I can't see him going to the centres, Lomax and penisini should be there. Don't know where to put him, but I think his time at fullback is up. 

    • Lomax wont be in the centres. Wing or FB.

      I dont think Brown will hang around, Gutho or Blaize to 6. The other to centre or FB. 

      1. Lomax/Blaize/Gutho

      2. Sivo/Simmonson

      3. Penisini

      4. Lomax/Gutho/Blaize/Simmonson

      5. Lomax/Simmonson/Blazie

      6. Gutho/Blaize/Brown

      • Brown  won't be an eels in 2026 unless ryles can change his mind turn the club around etc  

      • Brown will stay, he will get used to a new coach. Lomax will be even better as a centre, play him for where he was brought for. Lomax isn't a fullback and is one of the best centres in the game when in form, people forget that. 

        Gutho isn't a five eight, no pace or sprint speed is also worse. Also has no kicking game and gets a few passes wrong further out, stupid idea. 

    • I would of thought Penisini should be in NSW cup at best.

      • I agree.

        I also think Gutho is not not too slow now for fullback, but the centres as well.

        Maybe lock?

        • Sorry Grunta, but do you really think Gutho would last playing Lock? Defending in the middle for a long period of time?

          I am generally asking as i do not think so but you obviously have a differing opinion as you have mentioned this before. Why would you put him at Lock?

          • Because he's not suited to any other position imo. He deserves a spot and has no problems with defending, but doesn't have the speed to play anywhere in the backs.

            • I just feel Lock is too much of a defensive responsibility.

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