Parramatta has started the season in a hugely positive manner.
Star signing Blake Ferguson is leading the way and has been the club’s star and Mitchell Moses has re-found the form that saw a western Sydney tug of war for his services.
Their forward pack is bashing sides up the middle while young Reed Mahoney is looking like a future superstar.
The biggest positive of all though comes in the form of their superstar number one Clint Gutherson who has been incredible.
After a slowish return to the game following a long injury lay-off last season, King Gutho is breathing fire in 2019.
His form and marketability have seen him become one of the open market’s hottest commodities.
The Eels are obviously desperate to keep him at the club while his former club the Sea Eagles have been linked with his services.
South Sydney will be linked to almost every player on the market if the NRL allows them to reinvest the money possibly freed up by the Greg Inglis retirement.
I’m sure the Cowboys will be monitoring the situation given Valentine Holmes now looks no certainty to join the club.
All of this potential interest combined with Gutherson’s form and talents continue to drive up his asking price.
Reports over the past 48 hours indicate that Gutherson and his management have turned down the latest contract from the Eels.
The belief is that Gutherson is looking for a long-term contract worth around 700/750k per season.
As a star fullback, Gutho really has every right to explore his options and maximize his earning potential.
That said, the reports seem to have split Eels fans and the wider rugby league community almost down the middle re his worth.
Half of the Eels’ fan base wants to see their number one re-signed at any cost while the other does not see his worth at three-quarters of a million per season.
My first reaction was that $700,000 a season was a little steep. Tedesco, RTS and Turbo are all million dollar fullbacks. Ponga isn’t far off.
The Sharks offered Valentine Holmes around 800k before his move to the states.
The one thing all of those aforementioned players have in common is that they’re representative mainstays.
RTS is Kiwi captain, Ponga debuted for QLD in his first full season, Tedesco is the game’s premier fullback, Turbo is an Origin and Kangaroo certainty when fit and Holmes is a freak.
With all due respect to Gutherson, he is not a representative footballer at this stage.
700k is a fair way from the salary of Teddy, RTS and Turbo especially but it’s still a massive investment.
My original thought was that I’d expect his next contract to be around 500k. 700 is a huge jump.
That said, fullback is fast becoming the most important position, outside of the halves, in the game.
Billy Slater revolutionised the game. Tedesco is a top five player in the game. Moylan and Ponga have become their respective clubs number one attacking option.
There’s no doubt that Gutherson is a star. He’s probably the third most important member of this Eels’ squad after Moses and Ferguson.
So what if the Eels up his contract by 100k a season to hold off Manly and co from poaching their star?
I can tell you now that Manly won’t be paying him 750 to play in the centres.
He may move into the halves as the number one on the northern beaches is filled for the next ten years.
Manly already have over a million dollars a season invested in their halves.
Ultimately the market will decide Gutherson’s value and I’m of the opinion that Parra should pay what it takes to secure his services.
I just can’t see who else could make that money a reality though.
Manly surely won’t match that given their cap constraints. Souths will be hesitant although if the Inglis money is made available I suppose it’s not impossible.
The Cowboys may be in the game for that figure but shifting to North Queensland isn’t a small move by any means.
I don’t want to sit on the fence here so I’m in the camp that 750k a season seems a little high.
There aren’t too many players worth that kind of money.
That said, if the Eels need to step up to sign their star fullback long-term, that’s a gamble they’re probably going to need to take.
I can’t see King Gutho ruling anywhere other than Bankwest Stadium any time soon.