Most of this week’s talk has been about a certain fullback and for all the wrong reasons. I want to focus on another fullback for all the wrong reasons. That fullback is Jarryd Hayne.
The Eels lost a hard fought game 20-16 against the Bulldogs last night and the Eels for the most part were the better side. They bustled in defence but were poor in attack. Chris Sandow was doing it all on his own and with the loss of Reni Maitua to an ankle injury early in the game, the Eels were devoid of onfield leadership when it mattered most.
Enter Jarryd Hayne. Exit Jarryd Hayne maybe more accurate. One would expect one of the most dynamic players to try and stamp his match winning authority on the game in the latter stages of the match. It wasn’t to be. He looked disinterested and even when he had the ball in hand, he did nothing with it. Hayne made a crucial error late in the match and it summed up his night perfectly.
This game was not a memorable one with very few highlights but the Eels had the chance to go 2-0 for the first time since 1999. It would have been a morale boosting win for the younger Eels side, who have an average age of just 22.
Penrith may still come calling and I’m not sure what they are prepared to offer or what Hayne’s asking price is, but I would be wary of signing a player like Hayne to a massive contract when he only delivers when he feels like it. Jonathan Thurston he is not. Nor should he be in the realm of a similar salary. Hayne does have undoubted ability but until he can learn to play every week for the good of the team, last night he would have been better off shopping at Woolies in his playing kit rather than be out on the field, letting your mates down.
With the representative season just around the corner, Hayne will compete for the vacant NSW fullback spot with Brett Stewart and realistically, that’s about it. Josh Dugan would long odds to get a run with Tuggeranong at the moment, let alone NSW. On form, Stewart would get the nod and Hayne would struggle to take one of the wing spots.
The best part for Hayne is he has a chance to redeem himself next week. Question is will he flick the on switch?
On a side note, Ben Smith is not a first grade standard player. His run where he was pushed into touch was a woeful mistake no player of his vintage should be making. He offered little and delivered nothing. Stuart should punt him immediately for the good of the team over the long run.