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John Sutton puts reluctant leader days behind as he becomes sole captain

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It's only a little letter, but when John Sutton was first approached by South Sydney coach Michael Maguire about putting a 'c' next to his name, he felt the responsibility was too great for him.

In Maguire's office two years ago, the coach asked Sutton – for so long a player deemed destined not to reach his potential – to be a captain of the famous club. But he gave him help too, putting Sutton in a leadership group including five players. Even that spooked Sutton, who took some convincing.

"When 'Madge' first wanted me to be a co-captain a couple of years ago, at first I wasn't too keen on doing that," Sutton said. "I guess I was just happy being in the side and playing my part in the team, and didn't need the pressure of the leadership stuff. But Madge really wanted me to do it.

"I've taken it on now and I'm glad I have."

In that same office over the current off-season, the once-reluctant captain was given the honour of being the sole captain.

Sutton, who has a club logo tattooed on his foot, was no longer reluctant.


"I was very honoured when he told me," Sutton said. "It's just great to be captain of this club.

"Last year, 'Crock' [then co-captain Michael Crocker] was a big inspiration me, and [was] helping me out with the captaincy towards the end of the year. Taking it on full-time, by myself, it's going to be great for me. I'm really looking forward to being captain this year. We've got a great team, a great squad this year. It's been a really enjoyable pre-season. To get to lead them out every week is a huge honour."

Sutton admitted he never thought, during his early years at the club, that he would ever be leading the players onto the field as the sole skipper. Yet not long after he does that, against Sydney Roosters in round one in March, he will achieve another milestone that seemed so unlikely early on.

In round five, Sutton is due to play his 212th first-grade match, surpassing the club record, set by Bob McCarthy. And fittingly, assuming he remains injury-free between now and then, he will do it all at the SCG, in the heritage round clash against St George Illawarra.

"I've grown up in the area, and been at Souths all my life. I'm just grateful that I've been able to play so many games," Sutton said. "I just can't wait to get out there and hopefully have another good season.

"It's a big honour to be the most capped player, but I'm not too worried about that at the moment. I'll worry about that when my career's coming to an end."

To get to lead them out every week is a huge honour.

Which is not for some time. Having signed with the club until the end of 2017, Sutton will have a chance to become the first Rabbitohs player to play 300 games.

"Touch wood, if the body holds up, that'll be a great achievement," Sutton said.

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