Parramatta captain Clint Gutherson has imposed a looming deadline on himself to finally sign a new contract and expects his future to be resolved by early next week.
The 24-year-old confessed to feeling jaded after the constant speculation and is on the verge of announcing his next move following months of negotiations.
Gutherson has a deal on the table from the Eels while the fullback is also reportedly being chased by his former team Manly despite denials from Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler.
There were rumours on Monday that Parramatta had given a take-or-leave-it ultimatum to Gutherson and would withdraw their offer if he didn’t accept by the end of this week.
Gutherson said that isn’t true but won’t allow the conjecture to continue much longer anyway, planning to decide on a club in the coming days.
“It will probably be this week or next week. I’ve just got to sit down with the ones close to me and move on from there,” Gutherson told media on Wednesday.
“I don’t think there ever was [an ultimatum from Parramatta], to be honest. I spoke to Sam [Ayoub, manager] when I heard of it and he said there wasn’t.
“But look, I want to get it done and I’ll put my own deadline on it and say next week, end of this week, early next week.
“… I want to get it done. I’m sick of hearing about it, sick of talking to Sam. I want to get it done and sooner rather than later.”
The two-year extension of Eels coach Brad Arthur on Tuesday could be enough to see Gutherson also put pen to paper.
The No.1 shares a tight bond with Arthur and the mentor desperately wants Gutherson to stick around.
Gutherson heralded Arthur’s retention as a step in the right direction from Parramatta and reiterated the impact the mentor has had on him as a player.
“It’s a good sign for the club. I said from the start he’s been a massive influence on my career and it’s good to see him get two more years,” Gutherson said.
“He’s told me that [he wants me]. I’ve just got to weigh up all my options and then go from there.”
Gutherson admitted the drawn-out contract talks and the ensuing media coverage have been distracting.
However, he believes the contractual uncertainty for him and a host of teammates isn’t the reason for Parramatta’s on-field inconsistency.
“It is [a distraction]. But we’re professional athletes – it comes with playing and that’s the way it is,” he said.
“… There are a lot of us off-contract, it’s not just me. The club’s handling it the way they’ve got to handle it and everyone’s manager is doing it their way.
“I don’t think it should affect us and I don’t think it is.”
Gutherson also rejected chatter that cash was his sticking point in re-signing with Parramatta, claiming his motivation has always been to snag a long-term deal at the club.
The Eels’ latest proposal was for three seasons and Gutherson desires four.
“It was never about the money,” he declared.
“There’s been a lot of figures out there that aren’t true.
“I’m at that age; I want a bit of security. I want to settle down and try and set my life up and play some good footy and know where I’m going to be playing footy.”
The Parramatta leader also shrugged off suggestions he is injury prone and therefore a risk to lock down for an extensive period.
He has undergone two knee reconstructions already but Gutherson said he’s never been stronger.
The eighth-placed Eels are out to make amends for an embarrassing 64-10 defeat to Melbourne when they play North Queensland on Saturday.
Gutherson said the team aren’t dwelling on the crushing loss and have turned their attention to beating the Cowboys in Townsville.
“We’re past that. We’ve moved on and we’ve got another tough challenge this weekend against North Queensland up there,” he said.
“Look, we’ve had another good week of training and we’ve just got to go up there and change it.”