Sutton eyes contract extension as he welcomes seventh coach to South Sydney
JOHN Sutton is the great survivor of South Sydney.
The closest thing to Redfern royalty, Sutton is a premiershipwinning captain, who has survived 309 games, seven coaches and two wooden spoons.
What makes Sutton’s longevity remarkable is that not a season goes by in the NRL where a player doesn’t fall out with their coach.
Yet year after year, the 34year- old has managed to respond to the different coaching methods of his former first- grade coaches at Souths, starting with Arthur Kitinas and then on to Shaun McCrae, Jason Taylor, John Lang, Michael Maguire and Anthony Seibold. Next up, it's Wayne Bennett.
But rather than roll his eyes at a seventh clipboard mentor since 2004, Sutton is already devising a plan on how he can not only survive but thrive.
The most-capped player in Rabbitohs history is refusing to rule out playing on in 2020.
Despite inking only a oneyear-deal with the club, Sutton says the contract shouldn’t be confused with the presumption that he intends to call time next year.
“There’s no reason why (I couldn’t play on),’’ Sutton told The Sunday Telegraph.
“I love football, it’s the one thing I know well, so I’d love
to keep going. That is, as long as I keep playing good football and the club want to keep me here.
“If you’re still playing good football and your body is holding in there, there’s no reason why you can’t keep playing.’’
The prolonged playing careers of NRL veterans Paul Gallen (37), Cameron Smith (35), Cooper Cronk (35) and Robbie Farah (34) give Sutton confidence that, while ever he’s performing, he could push on beyond next season.
“I felt last pre- season was really good — I didn’t have an injury, I don’t think I missed any sessions at all, which really sets up for a good year,’’ Sutton said.
“I think I played the last two seasons without missing a game. So long as the body stays healthy and the mind stays young, I’ll be good to go.
“But you never know what can happen in footy. One injury could end my career.
“I’m just looking at a week at a time.
“That’s what has worked for me the last two years. I never think ahead.
“My wife doesn’t like it because she’s always about planning and I’m like ‘that’s too far away, let’s just worry about today.’
“I’ll just make sure I get as strong as I can in the gym and conditioning on the field.
“Obviously my body is a bit older and they look after me a bit as well.
“I felt last season was a good season for the club and especially for myself as well.
“So to get another year, I’m just excited to be back here.’’
Sutton produced one of the best seasons of his career in 2018 under Seibold.
And he admitted that dis- cussing his role for 2019 with Bennett would prove crucial to ensuring he can continue in a similar vein next year.
“It was definitely one of my best years in some time,’’ Sutton said of 2018.
“I think the way we played helped my game and my combination with Cody (Walker) helped as well.”