Jarryd Hayne is a brilliant and instinctive player, a true natural
who can produce some amazing football.
But playing him at five-eighth
at State of Origin level for NSW will throw up some massive challenges
for the Parramatta star.
Playing five-eighth at club level is
certainly different to playing at number six in the Origin furnace. And
Hayne doesn't even play five-eighth for Parramatta.
Look, I am not saying he couldn't adapt but to expect him to shift positions successfully in only a few weeks is a real big ask.
at Darren Lockyer. I reckon it took Lockyer about two years before he
really felt settled at five-eighth. It took two years at NRL level for
Lockyer to become dominant at number six for Brisbane, Queensland and
Lockyer was drilled on the edge defensively. Some at
the time questioned whether then Broncos coach Wayne Bennett should have
moved the world's best fullback. But Bennett, as he often does, ignored
the critics. The decision was certainly justified - but it took time.
is some talent. We all saw that again at Toyota Stadium last Sunday
where he was superb for Parramatta in their loss to Cronulla.
I remember two years ago Hayne was moved to five-eighth at Parramatta but the experiment didn't really work.
wasn't an outright failure mind you - he just didn't look overly
comfortable. I question whether such an experiment would be wise at
State of Origin level. It should be noted also that he can play second
receiver from fullback.
I would have thought someone like Todd
Carney would be a more suitable option for NSW at five-eighth. He is a
tough competitor who has played in the halves all his career.
There is a little part of me that wonders whether NSW coach Ricky Stuart is playing a few mind games here.
Stuart came out in The Sunday Telegraph revealing exactly why he wants Hayne at five-eighth.
Ricky really want Hayne out-of-position or was the story designed to
give some other five-eighths a gentle reminder that their performances
need to improve.
Look, I do agree NSW have to think outside the
square to win this year's series and players like Hayne need to be there
somewhere in the NSW squad.
But I would have thought fullback or
wing would be the spots where he would feel comfortable and excel - not
in a position where he has little experience.
- Michael Hagan is Qld assistant coach and a premiership-winning player & coach