He may have waltzed into the NFL with barely any experience, but even Jarryd Hayne is shocked with how well he’s returned to the NRL.
In just his fourth game since his dramatic comeback to rugby league, Hayne will revert back to fullback for the first time when Gold Coast host Penrith on Saturday.
A win will clinch a finals spot and break a six-year drought from September action.
And if they get there, they’ll do so on the back of a rejuvenated Hayne, who admitted being bowled over by the his successful adjustment back to the game.
“I guess I am pretty surprised about playing them long minutes,” he said.
“And for me to come back and just chime in, it’s been the biggest thing for me to be out there and just to try and help the team as much as I can.
In his three games so far for the Titans, Hayne has played 53 minutes against the Warriors, 80 minutes against the Wests Tigers and 64 minutes against Newcastle.
Most of his time has been spent at five-eighth.
This week however, the former Parramatta star will once again don the No.1, the number that led to him winning the Dally M medal with Johnathan Thurston in his final season in 2014 before departing for the NFL.
“My fitness has definitely improved a lot,” he said.
“Playing at fullback, it’s a different kind of fitness as well. A bit more speed involved, but then there’s not as much consistent running as at five-eighth.
“It’s a challenge in itself and something I’m looking forward to.”
Hayne said he would also lean on all his experience against a Penrith side, led by hotshot rookie Nathan Cleary, that he knows will test him early and often under the high ball.
“Just watching them play, they do put a lot of pressure on the fullback in general,” he said.
“(Cleary has) got a really good kicking game. The biggest thing from a fullback’s perspective is they like going high inside the 50. They’re a great team.”