The future of Parramatta skipper Clint Gutherson is currently unknown.
The Eels are keen for the 24-year old to put pen to paper as soon as possible, but Gutherson’s agent Sam Ayoub told The Daily Telegraph that will not happen until 2019.
It has been reported that Gutherson is on a conservative contract of around $450,000 next season, significantly lower than the majority of other NRL captains.
Gutherson’s agent would not speak about figures, but admitted that it is likely the 24-year old will receive plenty of interest from rival clubs.
“He is a good fella and one of those who you don’t want to undervalue,” Ayoub told The Daily Telegraph.
“I think the peak of his career is ahead of him.”
“I don’t see a benefit into rushing in contract players 12 months in advance of when their contract expires, unless you feel a genuine necessity for them to be remaining where they are.”
“At the same time you want the club to gauge him on his merits.”
“They have indicated to me that they would like to catch up soon for a chat and get the ball rolling which we greatly appreciate.”
“However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the right thing to do at this early stage.”
“I know he is very loyal to Brad Arthur because Brad did give him an opportunity when Manly were keen to offload him.”
When asked if Gutherson was a priority, Eels football manager Mark O’Neill said: “You’re right, he is a much valued member who we want to keep long term.”
“We want him to stay, definitely. I love coaching him,” Arthur told The Daily Telegraph.
Gutherson is one of twenty-eight of the Eels contracted players unsigned after next year, with all now free to discuss with rival clubs.
Both Arthur and Ayoub agreed that his best footy is still to come after having 16 months to recover from a full knee reconstruction that caused disruption to his preparation last summer.
“His pre-seasons has been outstanding so far, which is always is,” Arthur said.
“But he has gone to another level. Just fitter, stronger, bigger. The whole lot. He just looks more comfortable.”
While it is unknown what positions Gutherson will be playing, he would be valuable at fullback or centre, with Jarryd Hayne looking extremely unlikely to be back.
When asked Gutherson’s best position, Arthur said: “The hard thing with Gutho is he can play anywhere and do the same job.”
“It depends on what our option are in other positions as well. But he is just someone who no matter where we play he is going to play the same role for us. He wants to do what’s best for the team.”