Career mystery rears head as Sutton eyes 300th
JOHN Sutton's South Sydney teammates describe it as one of the NRL's great mysteries.
After a stellar 15-year career, why has the evergreen 33-year-old never earned State of Origin or national representative honours?
Sutton will on Saturday bring up a historic milestone when he becomes the first player in the Rabbitohs' long and illustrious history to play 300 games for the club.
Since debuting in 2004, Sutton has done just about everything in the game except play rep football, though there have been near-misses.
He famously captained the club to its drought-breaking premiership in 2014.
His form has rarely wavered throughout his time at Redfern and in 2018 he has arguably reached career-best form under new coach Anthony Seibold.
He will become the 32nd player in the league's history to reach the 300-game milestone when he runs out against the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium. But for all his achievements, he could never crack a start with NSW or Australia.
"It's a mystery," Souths halfback Adam Reynolds said.
"I always thought he'd play rep footy. He's definitely good enough to be in the mix with his form over the last couple of years. He hasn't really been talked about.
"It doesn't really bother him, that's his character, he just goes about his business and moves on.
"He's done a wonderful job for Souths over the years and I can't thank him enough for his contribution."
Sutton has on two occasions gone close to debuting for the Blues - he was in line for a halves spot in 2009 but injured his knuckle playing for NSW City. Then in 2013, Sutton was the subject of an embarrassing gaffe when the NSWRL tweeted out that he had been selected to replace Kurt Gidley for Origin I, when Josh Reynolds had in fact won the bench utility spot.
He went on to be 18th man for the Blues in games one and two but never forced his way into their 17.
Rabbitohs skipper Sam Burgess said Sutton deserved to be remembered as one of the Rabbitohs' great players.
"To be the first player to reach 300 games, it's quite a historic moment for the club," Burgess said.
"I think we're all privileged to be a part of it.
"We'll look to embrace him during the week and look to do him justice on the weekend."