Gutherson confirms likely return date after long lay-off
FOUR more weeks.
That's how long Clint Gutherson has left in his recovery from his ACL injury.
That means kitting up for Parramatta's season-opener against Penrith on March 11 is out of the question.
In Gutherson's absence, Bevan French has all but secured the coveted No.1 jersey.
Reaching the seven month point in his recovery from a knee reconstruction, Gutherson said the medical staff are erring on the side of caution when it comes to his comeback.
"I have a month or so to go," Gutherson told foxsports.com.au.
"I've dripped back into fulltime training and started to do everything contact and that so it's just a bit of waiting now to give it that extra time for it to be ready to go.
"I'll give it an extra few weeks if I need to but it's only the start of the season. It's a long year and I want to be firing at the right time."
With a week and a half until the season kicks off, the Eels' clash against Cronulla on March 25 looms as a possible return game for the livewire, although the following week against the Wests Tigers is also a possibility.
The final decision rests with the medical staff.
"I'm not too sure to be honest," he said of a possible Round 3 comeback.
"We're going week by week and I'm listening to the physios and the surgeon and see what they say.
"We don't really have a date at the moment.
"I'm still only 23. A couple of weeks at the start of the season will be nothing in the long run.
"I'm just taking my time with it. It feels good, it feels strong. No pain, no swelling. I just have to be ready to go."
After a lengthy stint in the rehab unit, Gutherson resumed a full training load minus the contact on the field.
He has however been involved in their wrestle sessions.
Starting his ball work with ISP NSW side Wentworthville, the Mona Vale product returns to the Eels next week. During that time he'll lose the pink bib.
"It started in the wrestle room a couple of months ago," he explained.
"This week I'll be into fulltime and ready to go.
"I'm doing hard cutting. I'm in most of the games, just no contact yet."
Shuffled around the backline throughout his career, it wasn't until he slot into fullback last year it appeared he finally found a home.
While French will start 2018 with the No.1 on his back, Gutherson said he hasn't given up on reclaiming the role.
"I want it back," he said.
"We've got Bevvy there starting the year. He could have a cracker of a year and I could just have to force my way back into it but I'm just taking it week by week.
"Hopefully I'll be back playing sooner rather than later."