Clint Gutherson knows Parramatta need a big season. (Brett Costello)
Clint Gutherson knows Parramatta need a big season. (Brett Costello)

Gutted Gutherson vows to repay Parra fans

They're an unforgiving and hostile mob out west, especially when it comes to rugby league.

Eels captain Clint Gutherson has told of the "embarrassment" he felt when walking the streets of Parramatta last year, carrying the burden of a paltry six wins and the NRL wooden spoon.

Some Eels players hated strolling down to the local shops.

Gutherson's side had run dead-last - and proud Eels fans didn't hold back.

The pain and anguish of 2018 has only fuelled the hunger and desire for success this season.

"It was hard because we felt embarrassed. It was hard walking around knowing you've let them down," Gutherson told News Corp.

"Walking the streets was hard because Parra fans are so passionate. They just love the club. We've got so many fans who really do adore the club.

"Hopefully we can repay the fans for sticking by us through the tough times. Even at the back-end of the year, they were still showing up to support us. That's what you want in fans - to ride the wave with you.

"But our wave last year wasn't good enough for them and for the whole club. It's probably a good time to head into the new season and repay them with a positive attitude.

 

Gutherson felt the pain as much as any fan. (Parramatta Eels)
Gutherson felt the pain as much as any fan. (Parramatta Eels)

 

"That is why we are so keen to start playing this year, to right the wrongs, to get out there and just flip it. That's what we're going to try and do.

"It starts this weekend with a trial against Penrith, and then against Penrith again in round one. It is a big couple of weeks coming up for us as a club, to see how much we have improved over the break and into the New Year.

"But, look, we've got more members now than we did last year. So that shows how much support they give us. And with the new stadium to open, it is going to hopefully be a special year.

"We're ready to go."

 

 

Gutherson somehow remains unsigned for next season.

In an era where players are locked up for four to five years in advance, Gutherson has just 12 months to earn a new deal.

There are suggestions Gutherson is waiting to see whether the club retains coach Brad Arthur before striking a deal.

"This is my last year so I've just got to go out there and play my game and hopefully it all sorts out," he said.

 

After all the training, the season is almost upon us. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
After all the training, the season is almost upon us. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

 

"I'm just leaving it to my manager (Sam Ayoub), he will do all the stuff for me. I just want to play footy, that's what I get paid to do.

"I have been here four years now, it's my second home and I would like to stay. But, as I said, that's up to the club and my manager to sort out, I just have to do my thing.

"We're at the pointy end so I don't want to know about (any nibbles), only if it's serious.

"I have massive trust with Sammy, I have been with him since I was 15.

"I just want to back myself and play the footy I know I can. That's how I have left it.

"There is probably a little bit of added pressure but you have to take that - as you do.

"There's been thousands of players before me that have done the same thing."

 

 

The Eels have endured a gruelling off-season - the physical battering at training just about over.

"It's a big time of year now, I think I speak for most of the players out there. It's always a long pre-season. So to be on the verge of games, it makes everything a bit easier, it makes going to training more fun. It's a good feeling heading into the final trial and then into round one," Gutherson said.

Blake Ferguson will give the Eels something new. (Brett Costello)
Blake Ferguson will give the Eels something new. (Brett Costello)