14th August 2019
The South Sydney Rabbitohs’ most capped player of all time, John Sutton, has today announced that Season 2019 will be his final year of playing Rugby League. A modern-day legend of the oldest Rugby League Club in Australia, Sutton will hang up his boots at the end of the year, at 34 years-of-age after 16 seasons with the one club, a rare feat in today’s game. Sutton, Rabbitohs first grade player number 1020, will finish his career as the most capped first grade player in South Sydney’s history, currently sitting on 329 appearances, more than 100 games ahead of his nearest colleague, Nathan Merritt. Sutton, a South Sydney junior who won ten consecutive Grand Finals with Kensington United, was the first South Sydney player in the Club’s 111-year history to play 300 first grade games, and is likely to finish this season in the top ten of players for all time for first grade appearances in the elite Rugby League competition in Australia. Sutton, who made his NRL debut against the Brisbane Broncos in 2004, is a three-time George Piggins Medallist as the best and fairest for the Rabbitohs in the NRL in a particular season, a winner of the Bob McCarthy Clubman of the Year award, Coaches award, Supporters’ Choice award and Rising Star award at South Sydney. Sutton represented the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII in 2005 and City Origin in 2008 and 2009. Arguably his greatest achievement was captaining the Rabbitohs to their 21st premiership in 2014, being the first Rabbitohs player since John Sattler in 1971 to be presented with the premiership trophy at season’s end.
Sutton is grateful to have been given the opportunity to represent South Sydney. “I absolutely love this Club and everything it stands for. It’s stood by me for about 20 years and I know within myself that I have given everything possible to pay the Club back over the years,” Sutton said. 2019 will be my final year and I’ve been lucky enough to play alongside some wonderful players, be coached by some of the best coaches in the history of the game, and I’ve been able to represent the best Club and its Members in the world. We’ve made some great memories together here including the 2014 Grand Final win, the World Club Challenge win in 2015, and countless other times on the field in front of the Members and sitting in the dressing rooms with my team mates after a win. I want to thank all of the players, coaches, Richo (Shane Richardson), Blake (Solly) and the staff over the years who have helped me during my career. You all mean a lot to me. I want to thank the Board and investors of the Rabbitohs for helping turn this Club into what it deserves to be. I’m finishing up playing this year but it won’t be the end of my association with Rugby League. I’ll be involved with the Rabbitohs and I’ll be helping this Club stay at the top where it should be. We also haven’t finished the job this year yet. My full focus is on getting the best out of every player in our team and giving ourselves every opportunity to win the comp again this year, and it starts with the Bulldogs this Saturday.”
Rabbitohs General Manager of Football, Shane Richardson, said Sutton will leave an indelible mark on South Sydney for decades to come. “John Sutton is quite a simply a legend of this Club,” Mr Richardson said. “He’s played more games for Souths than anyone else, more first grade games than anyone else, been our player of the year on three occasions, captained us to our last premiership, and become a leader of young men. But John has achieved much more than that. He has grown and matured into a wonderful family man. His wife Stacey, kids Pippi and Ace, his mum and dad Elena and John, are all part of the fabric here at South Sydney. He’s grown from a kid that was a bit rough around the edges who preferred to surf than train, into a leader of people, not just on the field but off the field as well. He’s become a successful businessman as well with his series of gyms which he owns with his sister and brother-in-law. We have all watched him grow to become a man of great integrity, a great dad and husband, a great person all round, and he’s still a magnificent surfer! John will not be lost to our Club. He will be taking up a role helping to coach our young up-and-coming players through the grades alongside Greg Inglis in 2020. His football nous and his ability to read a game is second-to-none and he will be able to pass on valuable skills and insights to the next generation of Rabbitohs players. One door closes for John this year and another one opens in 2020 and we could not be prouder of the man he has become over the past 20 years at South Sydney.”
Rabbitohs Head Coach Wayne Bennett paid tribute to Sutton. “I didn’t know too much about John before I came to South Sydney last December but I soon worked out that he had the respect of every one of the players here,” Coach Bennett said. He has proven to be an excellent leader amongst this team, he’s been wonderful for me to help shape this team this year and it’s great to know that he will be part of the set up post his playing career. He has achieved things that not a lot of people get to experience in this game, including captaining a premiership team, so he should be very proud of what he has done for this Club.”
Rabbitohs Chairman, Nicholas Pappas, said Sutton is a true champion of the South Sydney Club. “John’s path as a footballer has followed the same trajectory as our Club since its reinstatement,” Mr Pappas said. When he first donned our colours he was a supremely gifted footballer, if a little wayward. However, over the years he has matured to become a leader at our Club, one of the finest players we have ever produced, and a loving husband, father and son. On behalf of the Board and our Members, I congratulate John on his stellar career and we look forward to his efforts over the next two months as we work towards securing our 22nd premiership.”
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