Stat Attack: Gutherson runs almost 10km in Tracker cracker
Recently crowned co-captain Clint Gutherson can't do much more to help lift Parramatta out of the doldrums, as evidenced by his staggering workload since returning from major knee surgery.
Gutherson has been churning through a series of gut-busting efforts in his first month back from his second knee reconstruction with the Eels winning two of those four games after five straight losses.
When he returned to the paddock in round six against the Raiders - eight months and three weeks after going down with an ACL rupture last July - the 23-year-old was everywhere and in everything.
He clocked up nearly 10 kilometres of total running according to the NRL's new Tracker technology, which was used in last year's Holden State of Origin series.
Already the club's leader for support plays last year, Gutherson has upped his off-the-ball work rate in his four games this season from 17.28 supports a game to 24.25, which ranks him eighth in the Telstra Premiership.
"I think it was just one of those games where the fullback had to do a lot and I had to run just under 10 kilometres," Gutherson told NRL.com.
"It's pretty rare to get one of those in a season, let alone when I was first game back.
"But it was a good test and I was just trying to put myself where I needed to be for the team.
"[My Tracker numbers] have been pretty big the last couple of weeks – the numbers of the Tigers game [showed] it was one of the most back and forth games we've had in the last three years. That was a tough one on all the boys.
"But the staff at Parramatta look after us all and I had plenty of confidence in my knee [for the Raiders game] and the way I was going to play, I knew I was just going to give it my all.
"That's the way I play every week anyway, as though it could be my last game every time I run out there. We didn't win that first game but it was good to get out there, get that first carry out of the way and then just forget about it and play footy again."
Gutherson is regarded as the fittest player at Parramatta and is right up there across the Telstra Premiership as well, but it's his recovery time from one of rugby league's most debilitating injuries that truly astounds.
Kangaroos high-performance manager and long-time strength and conditioning guru Troy Thomson is better placed than most to comment on Gutherson's efforts, having worked with Melbourne, South Sydney and the Maroons over the last 17 years.
"I always feel that it takes about 18 months to be at your absolute best coming back from an ACL and he's probably only nine months or so back, so that's really quick and a credit to the staff at Parramatta to have him prepared to undertake those loads in his first game back," Thomson said.
"Getting through almost 10 kilometres is certainly up there for fullbacks at the top end, it's not uncommon, but you wouldn't see it on a weekly basis.
"But some of the elite fullbacks I've worked with clock 8 and 9 kilometres in a game."