Sut­ton eyes con­tract ex­ten­sion as he wel­comes sev­enth coach to South Syd­ney

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SPORT - DAVID RICCIO

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.”

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