Jarryd Hayne says Parramatta’s in-form young guns are inspiring him to reach new heights.
Skipper Jarryd Hayne believes the responsibility of leading a rejuvenated Parramatta is the catalyst behind his outstanding recent form.
Hayne’s performances have been a major reason for the Eels’ 4-2 start to the season – the club’s best in a decade following successive wooden spoons.
Parramatta face another of the NRL’s best supported sides and western Sydney rivals Wests Tigers in a mouth-watering Easter Monday afternoon clash at ANZ Stadium.
A crowd of about 40,000 is expected for the game with both teams enjoying stellar form despite having been tipped as wooden spooners rather than premiership contenders.
Under new coach Brad Arthur the Eels have won their past three games and Hayne has been lifted by the enthusiasm and desire of a new-look squad.
“When you are a young team that lacks a bit of experience you don’t realise how good you can be at times,” Hayne said.
“I am just trying to instil a bit of confidence. I’m trying to make them realise the key in the NRL is to work as one and turn up for one another.”
Hayne shares the captaincy with Tim Mannah but says there have been no demands from Arthur to go onto the field and lead by example.
“I think it’s just a given for me being an older player, no one has told me to do it,” he said.
“Myself and the older guys like Timmy and Tong (Willie Tonga) know that if we set the standard then the young boys will follow.”
Young guns Semi Redradra, Corey Norman, Joseph Paulo and former jailbird Manu Ma’u have been a breath of fresh air along with a reborn Chris Sandow and the returning Will Hopoate.
Fijiian winger Redradra’s scored nine tries in seven games, with Brisbane Test centre Justin Hodges recently saying he could be as good as dual internationals Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuqiri.
“Semi is a real talent and still learning all the time; he can only get better,” Hayne said.
“But we have no real superstars, everyone’s just working for each other.”
The Tigers have also had their share of success stories with impressive young halfback Luke Brooks proving there is life after Benji Marshall.
Former representative prop Keith Galloway has made a welcome return following two injury-hit seasons and Aaron Woods is the NRL’s form front-rower.
They’ve been ably supported by bench forwards Martin Taufua and James Gavet, with veteran winger Pat Richards showing that at 31 and after a nine-year stint in the UK with Wigan, he’s still a class act.
“He was in a phenomenal Wigan team for a long time and won the Super League player of the year on a couple of occasions, so it’s no surprise,” Tigers coach Mick Potter told AAP.
“But there’s more strings to his bow than your average winger.
“His kicking game is outstanding, but that’s something he spends a lot of time working hard on.”
The Tigers will be without injured skipper Robbie Farah with Joel Luiani coming in at hooker for his first start of the year.
“Joel has been going very well at NSW Cup level and when he filled in last year, he pleasantly surprised all of us,” Potter said.
“I know he’ll let no-one down.”