Parramatta are hoping to convince Clint Gutherson to stay.
Parramatta are hoping to convince Clint Gutherson to stay.

Eels fear Gutherson is ready to walk

Parramatta are confident he will still stay but there are growing fears that a $100,000 gulf will ultimately split the Eels and captain Clint Gutherson.

The Daily Telegraph has been told Parramatta are reluctant to increase their latest offer of $650,000 a season over three years.

That figure falls short of the four-year $750,000 a season deal Gutherson's management is seeking.

Further complicating matters is Gutherson's junior club, Manly, waiting in the wings. Gutherson's manager, Sam Ayoub, is due to meet Sea Eagles representatives in coming days.

Whether they would be willing to meet Ayoub's valuation of his client is not clear. Manly will still be operating under a reduced salary cap next season for previous breaches, and have superstar brothers Tom and Jake Trbojevic coming off contract at the end of 2020.

Gutherson would also be unable to play in his preferred fullback position, with Tom Trbojevic having a stranglehold on the No.1 jersey.

That would mean a likely switch to the centres, few of whom can demand such lucrative deals, or five-eighth.

 

Would Gutherson hold the same status at Manly? Image: AAP Image/Brendon Thorne
Would Gutherson hold the same status at Manly? Image: AAP Image/Brendon Thorne

 

Ayoub sat down with Parramatta head of football Mark O'Neill on Monday afternoon in a continuation of protracted negotiations which have now stretched over six months.

The Eels are adamant they will not repeat previous mistakes in recruitment and retention that have hampered their salary cap.

Gutherson's camp may even opt to suspend further negotiations to see whether the Eels fullback can pinch a spot in the NSW State of Origin side - further increasing his value.

One rival CEO conceded $750,000 a season was "State of Origin-type money" and, while Gutherson is an undoubted talent and has earned the Eels' captaincy at just 24, he has also suffered two knee reconstructions in his short career.

Manly have not tabled an official offer but well-placed sources indicate their interest is genuine.

 

Can Parramatta keep their rivals hands off their captain? Image: Brett Costello
Can Parramatta keep their rivals hands off their captain? Image: Brett Costello

 

Gutherson is extremely well liked at Parramatta, where he is nicknamed 'King'.

The Eels believe his No.1 status at Parramatta would slip to fourth string at Manly behind Daly Cherry-Evans and the Trbojevics.

Gutherson's management want to exhaust all avenues at Parramatta before holding talks with rival clubs. And it's understood the Eels are open to offering Gutherson a fourth year on his deal to give him further financial security.

Manly would need to shift around their roster and salary cap to make a real play for Gutherson.

The Eels fullback has been mentioned in NSW Origin discussions, but he would be competing for the utility position with incumbent Tyrone Peachey, who, unlike Gutherson, also covers hooker and back row.