Eels skipper Clint Gutherson will bring his ongoing contract saga to a head over the next week in a move that can only help his chances of a NSW Origin debut.
With both club and captain frustrated by the public haggling over Parramatta's three-year extension sitting before Gutherson, the off-contract utility wants to decide his future by early next week at the latest.
Negotiations have been ongoing for the past six months, Gutherson and his management wanting an extra fourth year's security added to the $1.95 million deal Parramatta have tabled.
The 24-year-old maintains he wants to stay in Blue & Gold, with Brad Arthur's re-signing this week until the end of 2021 to influence his decision.
"I've got to make a decision and I've got to try and do it sooner rather than later … this week or early next week, I'll try and knock it all off and move on from there," Gutherson said.
"I've got to weigh up all my options. With Brad staying now it's a positive sign for the club.
"I've just got to sit down and have that tough conversation with the people around me and see what I want to do moving forward and then go from there."
The Blues' dearth of right centre options could bring Gutherson into contention for an unlikely Origin call-up.
Clint closing in on Eels contract
Despite ongoing contract wrangles his form hasn't slipped, while James Roberts's axing from first grade and injuries to Tom Trbojevic, Jack Bird and Joey Leilua have Brad Fittler scouring the NRL for options.
Gutherson has played 11 of his 75 NRL games at right centre and could shape as an alternative to the likes of Josh Morris and Josh Dugan for Fittler.
However the Blues coach has been steadfast on avoiding players embroiled in contract drama after the 2017 campaign was dominated by discussion around playing futures.
Speaking at NSW's Origin launch in the shadows of the Sydney Harbour Bridge shortly after Gutherson addressed the media across town, Fittler said he would "absolutely take into consideration" Gutherson's contract negotiations at the selection table.
"It’s a case where someone is not doing their job," Fittler said.
"Because if Clint is going on TV talking about his contract between the club and the management someone is getting let down."
Stressing that he wants his NSW squad free of off-field distractions Fittler said: "It’s incredibly important and we just keep pushing to all our players to get your shit sorted."
Gutherson last played at centre at the end of Parramatta's disastrous 2018 season, and backed himself to handle an Origin call-up even if it did come in one of the game's most challenging defensive positions.
"I would say I could," he said.
"I'm in good physical condition, I do all the tough stuff but there's plenty of players putting their hands up.
"I would love to [play] every player wants to play Origin. But there's plenty of players out there that are putting their hand up.
"If it comes I'll take it with both hands but I've got to focus on getting back to winning for Parramatta."
Gutherson has recently been linked to a return to Manly, where he first made his Telstra Premiership debut, though Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler says the club does not have the salary cap space to accommodate him.
Eels issue Gutherson contract ultimatum
For his part Gutherson said he can understand Parramatta's frustrations with the drawn-out discussions, but backed the approach taken by his long-term agent Sam Ayoub.
"It's been a bit frustrating. You don't want to be out there all the time but that's the way it is," Gutherson said.
"The club's handled it the way they should and there's a lot of people off contract, so they've got to do what's best for them and I've just got to do what's best for me.
"I've been with Sammy since I was 14 so he does everything that he should. I just leave it up to him. I've got no idea what he goes through or what the club's going through.
"I'm here to play footy and that's what Sammy's there for."