Gutherson leans on NRL brotherhood in comeback from knee surgery

Being sidelined and watching his team struggle is frustrating for any NRL player but Parramatta Eels fullback Clint Gutherson has taken it upon himself to see the upside and support his team any way he can.

And yes, if that means baking in the sun on a scorching 39-degree day while watching his team lose 54-0 to the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, their heaviest defeat at the hands of their long-time rivals, then so be it.

A fan favourite across the NRL community, Gutherson suffered a season-ending ACL injury last July. Expected back in round eight, the 23-year-old has made a conscious effort to be involved with his side any way he can.

"It's easy, I just like being around the boys and having a good time. I'm fortunate enough to be able to call this my full-time job and whatever I can do to get the team going I will," Gutherson told NRL.com.

"You always have your down days and your up days, everyone is different. But I'm lucky I have good friends, family and a good team. You have to look at the positives, there are always people who are worse off than you.

"I've learned to get the best out of every situation."

Injured Parramatta fullback Clint Gutherson.
Injured Parramatta fullback Clint Gutherson. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

There has been a cultural shift from a time when an athlete dealt with injuries solely within the ranks of their club.

Via the double-edged sword that is social media, particularly Instagram, Gutherson has found if he had a question about another player's recovery or was looking for inspiration, it's now as simple as sending a direct message to a rival player who has gone through the same rehabilitation process.

"There's a heap of us who have spoken and supported me. Josh Mansour reached out and helped out, I've been talking to Andrew McCullough a lot. I messaged Sandor (Earl) right away when he did his and said 'look mate, it happens', you just have to move on from it," Gutherson said.

"We've stayed in contact - he's a great example of staying positive. I see him post things about his recovery and that pushes you, and I do the same thing. Even just a little text, or a little conversation, it all helps to push you and can change your whole outlook for that day, or even that week."

Earl, who signed a one-year deal with the Melbourne Storm in his bid to return to the NRL after a four-year drugs ban, suffered a torn ACL in pre-season training but is hoping to get back on the playing field later this season.

He told NRL.com hearing praise from one of his peers like Gutherson meant the world to him.

"That's great to hear, that's obviously been a little bit of a goal. When I did my knee it was a horrible situation, and for Clint it was the same. He was riding the wave of some amazing football, he's an amazing player, so to have a setback like that at a key point in his career, it's the last thing you want," Earl said.

"I think social media has been the driving force for us all supporting each other collectively. Now, we can reach out to each other quite easily through DMs.

"Guys like Gutho, Andrew McCullough, Matt Dufty, anyone who has been through an injury, it takes a big toll, so all the boys reach out and use social media as a platform for each other which I think is pretty cool." 

Gutherson's can-do attitude is exactly what's needed at the Eels amid the gloom of their 0-2 start to the Telstra Premiership.

With star recruit Jarryd Hayne rejoining the club and Bevan French shining in the No.1 jersey, "King Gutho" isn't about to let anyone or any worst-case scenario distract from his overall mentality.

"I just believe in myself. I'm confident enough in myself that when it's my time I've I'll go out there and do what's asked of me wherever I'm needed to play. If Bevan and Haynesy are killing it out there, or I have to come off the bench then so be it. I'm happy to do it," Gutherson said.

You can see the drive in Gutherson's eyes. The calmness. He's been through this before when he returned from an ACL tear while playing for the Sea Eagles in 2015 and he's got no doubt he can do it again.

"I haven't really ever been given much in my career; I've worked hard for it, I've worked hard off the wing and off the bench and I'm excited for that challenge again," he said.

"Hopefully I can just fight my way back into it, but again, if the boys are firing and the team is going well it'll be hard, but I'm up for that challenge."