John Sutton will get a chance to further etch his name in South Sydney folklore after signing a one-year NRL contract extension.
The 34-year-old will be given a fitting swan song after finally putting pen to paper on a new deal, which will see him extend his career into a 16th season.
He became the first player in the history of the foundation club to break through the 300-game mark earlier this year.
Sutton, who captained the club to their 2014 premiership breakthrough, goes into 2019 with 309 games to his credit – almost 100 games more than Souths’ second-most capped player Nathan Merritt (218).
“I couldn’t be happier about having the opportunity to play another season with Souths,” Sutton said.
“It’s my dream job and I feel privileged to have the chance to play rugby league for a living with a club like this.
“I love the Rabbitohs, I love playing for the members and the fans, and I can’t wait to get back to training and ripping in to get ready for the season ahead.”
The veteran back-rower found a new lease on life in 2018 to play some of the best football of his career.
Despite the willingness of both parties to sign a new deal, contract negotiations dragged on for months, fuelling questions about whether he would be forced into retirement.
A Kensington United and La Perouse junior, Sutton is one of the club’s favourite sons and in July was honoured with a mural at Kensington Park to celebrate his 300-game milestone.
“John Sutton is our longest-serving player, our most capped player with over 300 NRL games, and was the captain of our 2014 Premiership-winning team,” Souths general manager of football Shane Richardson said.
“To put it simply, he has earned legend status at South Sydney.
“I’ve known John and his family for nearly 15 years now and he has grown as a leader and player on the field and as a man, husband and father off the field in that time.
“He played some of the best football of his career in 2018 and he has earned another season at the Rabbitohs.”
The Rabbitohs on Thursday released prop Zane Musgrove to take up a three-year deal with the Wests Tigers.
The Rabbitohs were believed to be under salary cap pressure with Musgrove’s exit opening up the door for the club to re-sign Sutton.
Winger Robert Jennings remains the only member of this year’s Souths side still not contracted for next year.