In-form Jarryd Hayne is shaping as the key to NSW’s hopes of success in Wednesday’s State of Origin opener in Brisbane.
The form of Jarryd Hayne shapes as the key to NSW’s hopes of upsetting Queensland in the State of Origin opener at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday.
Hayne has produced some outstanding displays for Parramatta this season, rekindling memories of his stunning purple patch in 2009 when he led his side to the grand final.
The Parramatta superstar is the most experienced member of Laurie Daley’s squad with 17 Origins to his name.
He burst onto the scene as a 19-year-old when he was picked on the wing by the late Graham Murray and scored the first of his eight tries in a 25-18 defeat in Brisbane.
Daley started this year with Josh Dugan pencilled in for the fullback spot with Hayne pushed into the centres.
But three days before Daley named his side the Parramatta No.1 dismantled Dugan’s St George Illawarra 36-0, scoring two tries in the process, forcing the coach into a rethink.
Parramatta great and former NSW forward Nathan Hindmarsh, who played alongside Hayne for seven years, said it was the right decision and noted he’d seen a real change in the attitude of the 26-year-old since the arrival of Brad Arthur as coach.
“He’s getting better and better every year,” Hindmarsh told AAP.
“He is a very smart rugby league player but in the past I think he has lacked a bit of discipline with his training.
“But I haven’t seen that this year, he’s been far better than in previous years and I think that has been shown with the form he’s shown.”
Hindmarsh claims the high quality performances of 2009 become something of a burden for Hayne, who has never quite reached those heady heights again.
However, he believes he’s getting close this year and believes he can be the difference for a NSW side chasing a first series win in nine years.
“I think everyone has been waiting for him to do what he did in ’09 and that has been a huge pressure for him to deal with,” Hindmarsh said.
“He’s also had to deal with injuries which haven’t helped and now he’s starting to realise how dangerous he is with the ball in his hand again.
“He had to be fullback for NSW, just the way he carries and returns the ball and his vision when he passes it.”
A hamstring injury sustained two days after NSW’s win in game one last year sidelined Hayne for the remainder of the series and Hindmarsh believes it could have been different had he stayed fit.
“Origin just seems to bring it out in him,” he said.
“Even when he’s not been in great form and out on the wing, he steps up to Origin and blitzes it. He can be playing average or not at his best but when he pulls on that jersey he steps up.”