The Cumberland Throw

From The Stands – Our Kingdom For Our King

What price should you place on leadership?

The words from Jack Gibson are more succinct then I could ever be. He said, “to win a championship, you’ve got to have a nucleus of five or six real tough, hard competitors. To win anything, the team’s got to think tough and that infiltrates into the individual”.

Our leaders spoke post Roosters game about learning lessons and not repeating them. They showed me this past Saturday against the Sharks they had learnt that lesson. They have restored in me, as a fan, the faith that had eroded last year, the faith that this team is prepared to win ugly, to stay in the fight. To get back up when they are knocked down.

We have the nucleus of some real hard, tough competitors.

Injured players like Nathan Brown and Manu Ma’u are uncompromising.

Ferguson has surprised me so much. I knew he was talented but watching him at the ground he is so busy coming in and geeing up players.

Moses is super competitive and talented and his willingness to put his body on the line in defence this year is really pleasing to watch. Youngsters like Reed and Dylan have a toughness and a fearless nature that I love.

Junz has taken up a leadership mantle.

Junior is clearly the Alpha in our pack. Reports indicate that he’s become a mentor for young emerging forwards. His Saturday night battle with the extremely talented Fifita was wonderful, old school footy with the two Alpha props trying to one up each other. I would say that contest was a tough draw.

And the old warhorse Tim Mannah continues to lead by example, doing the hard yards through the centre of the ruck as he has done for the previous ten years.

But let’s not kid ourselves. The glue that holds this team together, as far as I see it from the stands, is Gutherson.

My team has many important components, but none are as vital as Gutherson. His talent, drive, leadership and sheer competitiveness is the backbone of this club.

The value of his work on the footy field certainly speaks for itself – he is Mr Everywhere. Throw in his ability to connect with the media and with fans, young and old, and you can rename him, Mr Irreplaceable.

A talent, a leader, an inspiration.

At a time when a wooden spoon Eels could have lost their connection with supporters, the King maintained his appeal to the average punter, to the kids, and no doubt to the corporate and community partners.

The trouble is that Clint Gutherson is not, at the moment, a long term proposition. Only management can answer, why not?

I have not agreed with all decisions made by management regarding player movement but I have always respected that they know more than me.

There are so many intricacies surrounding negotiations with player agents. These people are trusted by players to act on their behalf, but their influence has gone well beyond that.

Big Gorden Tallis recently revealed that 18 Broncos players, and the coach, are all managed by the same agent. That sort of thing spells trouble in anyone’s language. You can never allow an agent to wield the power at your club.

And that’s just the background roster information before club management sit down to talk about any individual contract.

Obviously, the days of a Michael Cronin handshake deal are long gone.

Don’t get me wrong. Fans are entitled to having an opinion about contract negotiations, but without being fully informed about who’s managed by whom, how much money is available, the overall roster structure, what’s been offered, and what the agents are pushing for in contract length and dollars, offering valid criticism is close to impossible.

And that’s the stance I normally take.

But not on Gutherson.

I don’t need to be an expert when it comes to how important he is to the Eels.

As a born and bred, lifelong Parra supporter, I know that Gutherson, a kid from the Northern Beaches who played for our fiercest rival in Manly, is Parra to the core.

His qualities on and off the field mirror those of past great players who built this club. Cronin, Price, O’Reilly, Kenny – tough, uncompromising players with absolute unwavering determination.

I don’t know the how and why Gutherson is not signed up already. I just know he should be. I will not accept excuses, because if he’s allowed to move on over what might be a few dollars, then Eels supporters will demand answers. And probably none will suffice!

The next two weeks should be the most exciting time for Eels supporters as we celebrate our return home, but I fear that the narrative will be hijacked by continued media reports about Gutherson’s future.

I am not a fan of the NRL media but they are right with Gutherson. His value off the park is at least the equivalent of his considerable talent on it.

So I ask again, what price player leadership?

I have a feeling Jack Gibson would have said, “Get that kid Gutherson signed up.”

From the stands, where all of us punters sit, the signature of Clint Gutherson is a non-negotiable. It was all everyone around me was talking about on Saturday night. As the title of my post implies, From The Stands expresses the spectator’s perspectative so it would be wrong to ignore all the voices around me at ANZ Stadium.

Think about that. The team is winning games, but as much as the supporters are cheering about this, they’re also stressing about the contract of the captain. There’s a message to the club in that.

Pay the kid – he’s earned every bit of the coin he’d get if he went to market – and then some. He’s not just the King, he’s the Nucleus of this club.

He is Parramatta.

Shelley

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Pou
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Pou

You’re helping Ayoub hold the club to ransom.

Jarrad
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Jarrad

And with gutho I could care less. He’s worth it.

Shelley
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Shelley

I respect and understand your view and like you I don’t trust player managers at all. The difference that I see with Gutherson is that I trust him. I strongly believe Gutherson wants to stay, the last couple of years have shown his loyalty to this club, playing whatever position is needed without even a single complaint. He is no dummy or robot, if we make him a fair offer he will stay, no matter the advice from his manager. He is the one that signs the contract. The club can not say we are a developing club and then… Read more »

Pou
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Pou

It’s not about discarding him. It’s a question of what sort of stupid offers should we match. It could be argued that he’s worth more to us than anyone else (and therefore we should pay the most) but that’s not necessarily true.

Shelley
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Shelley

I do agree there is a price we can not exceed. I think the club needs to own the narrative. At the moment his manager and the media own it. This was predictable and should have been dealt with better. I do want him to stay but not at any cost. Ultimately I don’t believe Gutherson will hold the club to ransom.

Pou
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Pou

Fair point about the club’s signalling on this. I assume we will keep him, and we’ll never know how much he actually cost. But if this year’s re-signings mean our 2020 team is weaker it will be frustrating.

Jonno
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Jonno

Hi Shelley, whilst I concur with the main thrust of your blog, as a club we have made premature decisions before and been found wanting. I believe we will sign Gutho, and soon. Maybe he’s wanting Brad to stay as coach or wanting the club to tell him who the next coach is before he signs ? Either way it will happen in good time, the journalists beat up of the situation doesn’t help our cause. He undoubtedly is the catalyst, glue that makes us tick, he embodies all the attributes that we as a club need. What a great… Read more »

Bob jay
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Bob jay

What about the destabilizing effect it could have on our current progressive success ??? BA has spent years of enduring incompetent boards and finally built a team for the future and now there all living in uncertainty. There needs to be some footy nous in this decision. Let’s see it.

Shelley
Guest
Shelley

BA had to find answers after last year, he like everyone else should be judged on results. People say it is too early to judge BA. I think they are wrong. Last year our players did not look fit ( in terms of being game ready) had poor attacking structure, looked confused on the field and had very little cohesion, especially in defence. Bringing in new players was not the magic bullet, addressing these issues was. These things don’t just change overnight. Obviously things changed over the off season. All of those issues have been addressed and BA has lead… Read more »

sixties
Admin

Jono, wouldn’t that be terrific to have an announcement or two as part of the big day. You don’t plan signings to fit in with an event, you get them done when both parties reach an agreement. However, I can imagine the response to a significant announcement or two on that day would be huge.

Parramatta Tragic
Guest

It would be a great idea to announce it on the big day. It needs to be dome sooner rather than later. Josua Tuisova would be a handy centre announcement to make on the big day as well.

shelley
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shelley

I agree the decision regarding BA is crucial. The thing that I have loved about the new Parra management is the communication and openness with the fans. That is not happening with this. We are getting little bits about dynasty building through selected journalists. I think we would need to lock in a coach and some key players before we talk about building a dynasty. That is the old Parra, lots of promises very little action. I never want any player or manager to hold a gun to our head. I want BA as coach and I want Gutherson to… Read more »

Jim
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Jim

Sign Gutho and BA NOW. It is a great feeling watching our boys this season and as much as I’m absolutely loving watching them play I have this niggling feeling inside regarding our squad. The Eels management need to move to get these guys locked in so we can also start signing others that need to be done. It’s been a long slog to get here and I don’t want to see it all turn to crap over these contract negotiations. We all know the media love controversy and this is all they can find with the Eels at the… Read more »

Brett
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Brett

Great blog. Agree he is a must and at 700 to 750 that is still a great deal

Jonno
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Jonno

Not sure what he’s on now but, $650-700 max. It would be a substantial up grade and leave some cash for the Browns, Moses and co

Longfin Eel
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Longfin Eel

I feel that the issue surrounding players whose contracts run out this year is being beat up in the media, and that the club has this in hand. The fact is we just don’t know what is going on behind closed doors. If the players were getting anxious, we would see this on the field and probably hear about it when they are interviewed – I’m sure the media has tried to extract this from them. These negotiations take time and there are many players to negotiate with. Not all will fit under the cap if everyone gets an upgrade,… Read more »

sixties
Admin

Longfin, I think there’s balance in this post from Shelley, just as there’s already balance in the responses. This post was submitted to me a few days ago, before the Monday and Tuesday media blitz on the contract situation. It was not in response to the last two days. Shelley predicted that the narrative leading into the new stadium opening could be hijacked by a media focus on contracts. We are seeing that. She has also acknowledged that we don’t know the details of what’s involved in the negotiations and that getting contracts done is a complicated process. However, like… Read more »

shelley
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shelley

Absolutely much of it is a media beat up and in many ways that is why I felt compelled to write it. I am disappointed in the club management because the only thing we should be talking about is the performances and the opening of the new stadium. But we are not and it was so predictable and I think preventable. If players, the club management etc are waiting until the coach issue has been sorted,while I don’t agree that you can just sit on your hands and wait just say it. They have left themselves open for the coverage… Read more »

Longfin Eel
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Longfin Eel

Thanks Shelley and Sixties. I see what you are both getting at and it’s certainly not an ideal situation. Normally the coach and players off contract would be locked up by now, or at least be put on notice that they need to perform well to earn a contract extension. The club seems to be between a rock and a hard place. It was only a few months ago where people were calling for a mass cull at Parra. Can we be confident that everything has changed in just 4 weeks? I just feel that in a couple more weeks… Read more »

RoN
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RoN

Make moses captain.
He is handling the situation appropriately, whilst the Gutherson camp are making the Eels look like they are lowballing him.

As a captain, Gutherson should have known better. Its not a great look for the club when players do their deals through the media.

sixties
Admin

RoN, I think that Moses should be re-signed now, but I can’t understand your criticism of Gutherson. Do you believe that Gutho would use the media to push his contract? Is he saying anything that disrespects the club? This man is the ultimate professional and one of the most passionate players I’ve seen in all of my years supporting the club. When, everyone was asked to bring in and talk to the squad about three things that were important to them, he brought in his debut Eels jersey. He busts a gut for this club as its captain. I’ve watched… Read more »

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

I don’t see the players doing this at all, rather its the media who are putting the pressure on the players, with their questioning of them. Both are basically saying the same thing, and leaving it to their agents. Which could actually be that its the managers putting out these repeat items for the sports writers to continue putting forward.

I have seen the same things rehashed in slightly different ways since the win against the dogs, even following the loss to the chooks.

shelley
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shelley

I will admit I have been impressed with Moses, and I was not a fan of his, but I will respectfully disagree with you on Gutherson. All I have heard him say is I will leave it to my manager and that he likes the club and if he plays well it will sort itself out. Sure his manager is being sneaky and manipulative and I think it is no surprise that Gutherson is out of the media this week as I don’t think he was portrayed well last week. However, are any of us surprised with how the media… Read more »

Colin Hussey
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Colin Hussey

Good post Shelley, as always. Way I am looking at this is simply that while there is huge media attention on the eels in general, now that we are not the laughing stock of RL, certain sections of the media want that to be the case and ongoing. One day, its about Gutho, then about MM, more on MM this morning as well, Gutho’s case is on side panels to be kept in focus, the only mention of the coach has faded a lot. For me that situation is the key to the whole go forward future of the eels,… Read more »

shelley
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shelley

Spot on Colin. I feel this situation is as much about BA and his future at the club as it is Gutherson or any individual player.

John Eel
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John Eel

In my many years I have seen many contact negotiations and court cases also fought out in the media. This is most always a sign that the party going to the media is on the back foot. The new management at the club have shown that they like to negotiate with confidentiality and not go through the media. I think that the signing of Gutho is no exception. I think that we should sit back and let the club do the negotiations. When it is over we will have something to cheer or criticise. Nothing we say now is going… Read more »

shelley
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shelley

John I can see your point and that is why I did think long and hard about writing it. I know the media is playing this up and I have probably done the same. But the problem I have is that I don’t think the club is helping itself The club management seem to think just sitting back and saying nothing at all is the way to go. It is a paradox as they ask the fans to become so heavily connected and involved with the club and players but then say nothing when issues are topical for fans. Sometimes… Read more »

John Eel
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John Eel

I think we agree on this.

I have in the past complained that they have been silent on issues where they should have made a statement. I think the JH issue during the off season was one such time. However I think on Contract negotiation the best you are going to get is a motherhood statement. Hosing down expectation.

This would exude a lot of positivity and calmness about the club confident and doing everything possible. At the same time that they would be going at 100 MPH trying to make it happen.

Colin Hussey
Guest
Colin Hussey

Case in all of this re signings, managers and the media being high in their pushing is found in this link
https://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/nrl-premiership/teams/eels/19-off-contract-the-decision-eels-must-fasttrack-or-risk-letting-stars-slip/news-story/ba07a66c5d29d29d114b8cde3c4c7436
Note the time of the publication of the article and date

DDay
Guest
DDay

A good balanced discussion. Mark O’Neill would have plan and no doubt negotiations are happening. In October there was an announcement of four players signing (Gennings, Pritchard, Gower & Peni) – these negotiations being done on the quiet and announced as a job lot. The player managers & media are pushing their own agendas and continue to use the Eels as clickbait. The club won’t let others set the agenda and risk losing control of negoitations. Having suggested June for the BA decision, we may have to be patient – maybe there’s another job lot coming!

BDon
Guest
BDon

Shelley, 100% with you on the sentiment of re-signing Gutherson. Reading Sixties’ pre-season coverage added great dimension on the value of such a player.
You just get a bit cynical with player managers who feed media buddies for their own aims and benefit. Donnelly/O’Neill and co. know the routine and would prefer to not run things in public. Unfortunately, money has a habit of sending things pear shaped.

Milo
Guest
Milo

Great Shelley and thanks sixties for the additions.. Agreed with the comments here; we want this sorted along weigh BA and the group. The club would have known this was going to occur at some point; and to me we are better off being in a winning position off the field rather than 0-6 like 2018. I have faith they will sort it and O’Neill has the job to complete. They would know or have a v good view as to who they wish to keep on whether in 1/ 2 or 3 yr deals. Lock up your spine who… Read more »

Colin Hussey
Guest
Colin Hussey

The way both Taka and MJ are playing atm its a hard call for either of them to not get an extension. I would suggest though, with MJ being closely chased by Taka in the age stakes it will be a throw of roulette dices as to who to keep, one will command more a payout than the other to stay on.

John Eel
Guest
John Eel

Milo for me of the three that you mentioned probably Gennings is the most vulnerable. I think that Sivo may have gone past him in the pecking order.

The big surprise for me is Sivo, A lot were talking him up during the off season but I was wary of whether he could convert his form in Park football to NRL.

He has done it spades. There are still errors to work on but he is doing fine.

Milo
Guest
Milo

Yes I think you’re right John. errors in him yes but he’s only played 4 matches. I look at past wingers gone by and many had errors in them each game!! I wont name them. But we can guess.

sixties
Admin

I wouldn’t like to be managing the roster coming out of this year. Room has to be found for young players, even before space is created for new signings. Now if I had an overhead projector I could better illustrate this. Wait….