Eels back down on contract deadline to give star trio more time

The Herald understands the Eels’ offer to Gutherson is a two-year extension, which would see him remain at the club until at least the end of 2024, worth between $1.5m – $1.6m.

Mahoney, who was spotted having dinner with influential Bulldogs figures at Canterbury Leagues on Tuesday night, has been presented with a three-year extension worth around $450,000 a year to stay at the Eels. It’s the club’s first offer to the hooker.

Despite claims from Canterbury that no ‘formal offer’ had been made to the hooker, the Herald has been told that the Bulldogs have verbally offered a four-year, $650,000-a-season deal to lure him back to the club where he played his junior football.

It’s unclear what the Eels have offered Paulo, but they consider him an integral part of their plans.

The club opened discussions with Ayoub about extending Gutherson back in May but have struggled to reach an agreement. They decided to put negotiations on hold leading up to the finals series as speculation ran wild as to Gutherson’s asking price.

The current stumbling block doesn’t appear the $750,000-$800,000 offer per season, but instead the length of the contract as Gutherson holds out for an extra year.

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Despite a number of knee injuries as he broke into the NRL, Gutherson has proven his durability by playing in every single game bar one in the past three seasons – a game in which he was rested before this year’s finals.

However the Eels are holding firm on the two-year extension and could be forced to test the market for another fullback if he doesn’t commit his future on Friday. Unlike Mahoney, Gutherson doesn’t appear to have a suitor ready to make him an offer. Paulo has been offered to the Dolphins.

The club has lost back-rower Marata Niukore to the Warriors from 2023 on a four-year deal worth $2.5 million. The Eels weren’t willing to match the Warriors offer, which was worth around $150,000 more than the Eels were willing to pay per season.

Niukore’s decision could prove a blessing in disguise for the Eels, who may need to significantly increase their offer to Mahoney to keep him out of Canterbury’s grasp.

They may also need to up the offer to back-rower of the year Isaiah Papali’i. He has been offered an upgrade of around $75,000 for his 2022 contract, plus $425,000 for the next two years.

The Wests Tigers have expressed an interest in Papali’i’s services and have discussed spending up to $600,000 on him. The Tigers are refusing to entertain Luciano Leilua’s manager’s asking price of $700,000 and see Papali’i as a better value alternative at that price.

Papali’i’s preference is to remain at the Eels, who now have the money to up his offer and keep him at the blue and gold on the back of Reagan Campbell-Gillard last week recommitting to the club until the end of 2025.

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