‘Nothing personal’: Eels skipper defends latest on-field spray

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Parramatta captain Clint Gutherson has insisted his latest on-field blow-up at teammate was not personal, explaining that he had wanted to challenge his fellow Eels to lift their efforts.

Gutherson was caught on TV spraying centre Will Penisini in the 79th minute of Saturday’s loss to Canberra after he had kicked the ball dead.

The Eels skipper has been known to publicly chastise teammates during games, which he famously did a couple of years ago at Manly when he launched a foul-mouthed tirade at Tom Opacic.

Penisini laughed off the Gutherson spray and said it was not the first time.

“It’s nothing personal, I needed to nail that kick,” Penisini said on Monday. “He’s a passionate guy who loves to win. When things go wrong, he has a bit of a blow-up. I’m used to it. Its normal Gutho. He hates losing, he’s a competitor, that’s why he’s our captain. Little sprays like that will happen.”

Few Parramatta players wear their heart on their sleeve more than their No.1, who on Monday could not understand what the fuss was about.

Clint Gutherson lost his cool with a teammate on Saturday Credit: Courtesy Fox Sports

“It’s footy, that’s what footy is, you challenge each other to try and win, and that’s what you do,” Gutherson told this masthead. “There are no hard feelings there.

“I wouldn’t say I bottle it in. If you put a camera on me, I’d do that all game. It wasn’t a one-off thing. I’m challenging our players to win. We haven’t won enough games this year. We need to start winning.”

The Eels had a tough draw to start the season, but a heavy loss to competition leaders Souths this weekend could see them slump to as low as 15th on the ladder after 12 rounds.

A bit like the Sydney Swans in the AFL, there were high hopes for the Eels after they made last year’s grand final, only to buckle under the weight of expectation.

Albert Hopoate crashes over for a try against Parramatta on SaturdayCredit: Getty

Gutherson said Eels teams entered every year with expectation since the glory days in the 1980s, and some missed opportunities in tight games had not helped their cause.

To make matters worse, back-rower Shaun Lane will miss up to two months with a hamstring injury, while they meet Souths in Indigenous Round, a weekend they always lift for because of their proud First Nations history.

Gutherson went as far to say about his opposite No. 1 Latrell Mitchell: “Every time he touches the ball something good happens.

“He’s been doing that for five, six, seven years. He’s always on the ball. You’ll never stop him, it’s about limiting what he can do, and that’s what we’ll try to do on Friday.

“Every time he picks his moments something good happens. He’s the form player in the comp right now – he’s probably up there with Cam Munster as the best player in the world.”

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