Less than a week after making his return to fullback, Jarryd Hayne faces what he believes is one of the toughest tasks a custodian can handle in the NRL.
The Gold Coast recruit admits he’s looking at a busy Saturday night returning the kicks of North Queensland captain Johnathan Thurston – a player Hayne reckons could be remembered as the greatest of all time.
The pair shared a Dally M medal in 2014 and have been Test teammates for Australia.
Hayne says he’s only too aware of his role in a match the Titans have to win to have any hope of reaching this year’s finals.
“That’s probably one of the hardest tasks, whenever I’ve faced JT as a fullback, is his kicking game,” Hayne said on Wednesday.
“JT”s attack on the line with repeat sets is probably the best in the game.
“It’s obviously hard to defend and I’ve got a big task ahead.”
Hayne said he and the Cowboys’ skipper both share a strong competitive streak – an attribute he believes has helped both to achieve their positions in the game.
“He could go down as best ever,” Hayne said.
“He’s had a great career, achieved so much and it’s been a pleasure to play alongside him. I’ve seen how hard he works and what he has to do to get his body right.
“The biggest thing that stands out is he’s a great competitor … everyone loves that about him and I love that about him.”
The Titans star expects to be better for his first run at fullback in two years in last weekend’s 15-14 loss to Penrith.
Hayne picked up 220 running metres against the Panthers, including a line break in the opening half but was unable to lift the Titans to a top eight-assuring victory.
He says the focus now is purely on getting a win over the Cowboys in Townsville – something only one team has done this year.
“I’m in better shape than a was last week,” he said.
“If we get our backyard right, that’ll put us in good stead. The guys have shown during the year they can compete with the best so it’s about doing that, especially against the Cowboys.”