The last time the Eels and Clint Gutherson sat down to talk money things got ‘embarrassing’ – this time things will be different.
The King is ready to remain on his Parramatta throne.
Hoping to avoid the drama which surrounded previous negotiations between the two parties, the Eels claim to have started contract talks with Gutherson about a new long-term deal.
‘King’ Gutherson comes off contract after next season but is free to start contacting rival clubs from November 1 this year.
“Gutho is our captain, we want him to stay and we are working through the negotiations with his manager,” said Parramatta general manager of football Mark O’Neill.
Gutherson, 26, will again lead Parramatta into battle against New Zealand Warriors in a Magic Round game at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
King Gutho will lead the Eels against the Warriors at Magic Round.
Eels coach Brad Arthur would not discuss recruitment and retention but did say: “Gutho is the club captain, he loves his role and he loves the club. I’m sure he wants to stay.”
Discussions are still preliminary between Gutherson and Parramatta with money and terms yet to be broached.
Gutherson continues his surge into the NRL’s truly elite category and is fighting tenaciously to retain his spot in the NSW State of Origin side.
Sam Ayoub, Gutherson’s manager, wanted to stress his client still had a year-and-a-half remaining on his current three-season deal.
“You always want to get a deal done but the deal has to be fair and there’s a lot to weigh up when he’s not off contract for another 18 months,” Ayoub said. “There are a lot of considerations, there is a lot involved.”
Clint Gutherson would attract plenty of interest on the open market.
Gutherson turns 27 in September and would be 28 by the time his current Parramatta deal expires late next year.
A possible three-year deal would take Gutherson to 31. There is little doubt Gutherson would attract immediate and considerable interest for 2023 if unsigned by November 1.
Contract discussions between Parramatta and Gutherson were strained and challenging before the Eels fullback signed his last deal back in mid-2019. During those talks, the Eels was ready to withdraw their offer, claiming negotiations were being played out in the media. At one point, Ayoub fired back by labelling Parramatta’s behaviour “embarrassing”.
Parramatta fans can expect to see Clint Gutherson in blue and gold for a bit longer.
Eels management is desperately hoping to avoid another round of protracted negotiations involving Gutherson.
After re-signing in 2019, Gutherson, a Manly junior, said: “I love the club and our loyal fans, I love playing the game and I love my teammates so I’m very happy I’m staying.”
The Eels expect forward Ryan Matterson to take up an option to remain at Parramatta next season. Reed Mahoney also comes off contract after next season with Parramatta certain to want the hardworking hooker retained.
Parramatta are paying $7 to win this year’s grand final, according to the TAB, behind Penrith ($3), Melbourne ($4) and Souths ($5.50).