Gutherson stakes claim for Eels No.1

Clint Gutherson has put his hand up to be Parramatta’s long-term fullback but admits his aspirations will go in the trash can should Jarryd Hayne sign on for the 2017 NRL season.

After finding himself unwanted at Manly last year, he sent a message to his former club about his worth with a standout performance in a losing side against Penrith at Pepper Stadium on Sunday.

With Corey Norman out suspended, he was shifted into five-eighth – a position he hasn’t played since under-13s – and was arguably the best player on field.

In a performance that belied his status as the club’s seventh-choice half, the three-quarter-cum-playmaker laid on two tries and scored one himself in the Eels’ 22-18 loss.

“It’s just a good experience. I’ve been playing everywhere in the backs this year,” Gutherson said.

“It’s good experience to play at the NRL level the better you’ll get. A lot of other boys were playing out of position and it will help in the long term.”

Coach Brad Arthur was forced to marvel at Gutherson’s versatility after the 21-year-old seemlessly slotted into the halves alongside Jeff Robson.

With Michael Gordon set to leave the club for the Sydney Roosters next year, the fullback position is wide open.

Gutherson makes no secret of his desire to wear the No.1 and will spend the rest of the year trying to prove to Arthur he’s the man for key role.

“The one is my No.1 position but as you can see we’ve got a few good fullbacks there,” he said.

“We’ve got Flash (Gordon) there at the moment and Bevo (Bevan French) on the wing.

“If I’m here for the long-term, that will be my goal but if Bevo comes in, I’m just happy to play. If we’re winning, it doesn’t matter where we’re playing.”

However, he admits his hopes will be instantly dashed should cope-hopping superstar Hayne sign with the Eels.

“If you have him – he’s a freak – you’re not going to take his spot,” Gutheron said.

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