The last time Clint Gutherson entered negotiations with the Eels for a contract extension, things got pretty ugly — and it’s reportedly set to go down a similar path this time too.
Parramatta’s skipper is off-contract at the end of next season, meaning he’s free to field offers from rival clubs from November 1 if the Eels don’t lock him in on a new deal beforehand.
The 26-year-old is likely at the top of their list of priority re-signings, however according to Fox League’s James Hooper, the negotiation process won’t be as simple as it may seem.
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“A couple of years ago when Clint Gutherson was in his last round of contract negotiations for an extension with the Eels it blew up publicly and it got really ugly,” Hooper told NRL 360.
“Clearly they weren’t all on the same page because initially the club underarmed him, then there was all this propaganda that perhaps his knees were a bit suspect and he wasn’t worth the money.
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“In the end they ended up striking a price and doing the deal and he’s been their captain and leader ever since.
“It’s about to kick-off again because Gutho is a free agent as of November 1 and I get the feeling as though behind the scenes there’s a lot going on around this at the moment.”
It comes amid reports earlier this week that Gutherson was asking for a salary of $1 million in his extension.
Hooper believes that is “garbage,” but those reports have sounded alarm bells for The Daily Telegraph’s Paul Kent.
Kent questioned whether the Eels had “genuine honesty” after already shining a spotlight on how the club’s five-man recruitment and retention committee is not working.
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“That (asking price) is garbage though, I don’t think that’s right that he’s asking for $1 million a year,” Hooper said.
“That’s my point,” Kent responded.
“I spoke to Sam Ayoub last night who manages him and he said ‘we haven’t even got the figures yet’.”
NRL 360 co-host Yvonne Sampson questioned where the information that Gutherson is asking for $1 million came from if it wasn’t from his manager.
Kent, as well was Paul Crawley suggested it has come from someone inside the club.
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“When Gutherson started negotiating with the club last time, stories started being leaked in the media that he had dodgy knees and it was their attempt to lowball him,” Crawley said.
“That’s this issue this time,” Kent added.
“For all this talk about robust conversations and honest (recruitment) meetings, where has this come from?
“Who is the guy at Parramatta who leaked that Gutherson is after this — which is immediately going to put a lot of focus and unfair pressure on that negotiation process.”
Originally published asHuge drama over NRL star’s $1m contract leak
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