Superstar Gold Coast recruit Jarryd Hayne will make his first NRL start for the club at five-eighth in Saturday’s vital clash with Wests Tigers.
A dual Dally M Medallist as a fullback for Parramatta, code-hopper Hayne played 52 minutes – mostly in the halves – in his return to rugby league against the Warriors on Sunday and coach Neil Henry is in no hurry to move him from that position.
The Titans’ 24-14 loss in that match has dropped them from seventh to 10th on the ladder and leaves their hopes of a first finals appearance since 2010 hanging by a thread.
Henry said it was still uncertain whether Hayne would play the full 80 minutes against the Tigers but he was confident he was ready to start delivering for his new club.
“He was certainly tired at times but got through it okay,” Henry said of Hayne’s performance against the Warriors.
“He’s pulled up fine. We still have options around the rotation there anyway.”
Regular five-eighth Tyrone Roberts’ knee injury and the good form of incumbent fullback David Mead made Henry’s decision on where to play Hayne a relatively easy one.
Although Hayne made his name as a fullback, he also played 14 matches for Parramatta at five-eighth.
Hayne also wore the No.6 jersey for City in the 2012 Country clash in Mudgee.
“He’s quite keen to fit in with the team,” Henry said.
“Everyone assumes he’ll be fullback but we see no real reason to throw him back there with Meady doing such a good job.”
Hayne’s positional selection means he won’t line up against incumbent NSW fullback James Tedesco, but it does set up a clash with another Tigers’ young gun – in-form pivot Mitchell Moses.
Henry has no doubt Hayne can be successful in his return to league.
“He’s (Hayne) certainly showed he’s still got it, hasn’t he?” Henry said.
“He’s a great threat carrying the ball. It does put another question to the defensive line as well … he’s looking forward to what’s best around the team.”