If Clint Gutherson had his way at age 20, the outside back never would've landed in Parramatta, instead spending the entirety of his career at the Manly Sea Eagles, his junior club.

Instead, he's one of the game's most consistent fullbacks, a one-time State of Origin player fresh off his maiden grand final appearance, and no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Regardless of how high 'King Gutho' is flying now, there was a time where he only wanted to fly with the Bird Gang, making his NRL debut for Manly in the final regular season match of 2013, one of two debutants for the Sea Eagles that day.

The other one? He goes by the name Jake Trbojevic, and snuck onto the bench at late notice in jersey No. 21.

The duo played one singular NRL game together at Manly, their debut, and wouldn't line up alongside one another again until 2020, as Gutherson pulled on his maiden New South Wales jersey alongside Jake, his tenth appearance in sky blue.

The duo will share the field again on Thursday night, this time opposite one another, as player agent Sam Ayoub recalls delivering Gutherson the distressing news in 2015 - his Sea Eagles' career was over.

“He was devastated, yes he was,” Ayoub told News Corp.

“I recall bringing him and his dad over for coffee. I wanted to meet them because I knew telling him would be a devastating blow. And there was a level of disappointment.

“I know for a fact, he would have loved to have had his whole career at Manly but it wasn't to be and decisions were made. He wasn't dirty (at Manly).

“They are tough situations and tough discussions. When you give bad news to people, you also want to be able to give them good news.

“Parramatta was the most anxious to try and get him so the positives were that a couple clubs were interested.

“Gutho was obviously upset but he is a ‘roll-with-it' type of guy. I will use these words respectfully – he is an old school throwback. He said: ‘If that's what it is then that's what it is'.”

The fullback was desperate to remain on the Northern Beaches, and despite signing with a western Sydney club, Gutherson didn't pack a single box.

“His biggest concern was the amount of travel but he felt comfortable. He gets in the car and makes all his phone calls, has his laughs along the way and before you know it, he's there. It became routine,” Ayoub said.

“Not long after he joined Parramatta, ‘Gutho' became one of the youngest captains in the game, which is a credit to him. He was 24 years old. That's how highly Parramatta thought of him.

“They saw his leadership qualities that we have all seen since.”

He's a figure the Sea Eagles could've desperately used during the 'pride jersey' saga of last year. A leader through and through, the custodian has a way of galvanising his troops, and bringing the playing squad together.

2022 NRL Grand Final - Panthers v Eels
CONSTANT FIXTURE: Clint Gutherson has made more NRL appearances than any other fullback since 2019. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Ayoub knows if Manly had their time again, it would've been a different story.

“Manly at the time said they didn't think Clint would force their hand as a centre or fullback. At that time, coming into first grade, they played him on the wing,” Ayoub continued to News Corp.

“Everyone makes mistakes. To the club's credit, they did come back and acknowledged it was a wrong decision. They did have Brett Stewart there at the time.

“If we are talking about competitive players, next to Johnathan Thurston, I think ‘Gutho' has been the most competitive player in the game over the last ten years. You just want him in your team every day.”