Eels centre Jarryd Hayne is copping criticism from rugby league experts not despite his incredible form hike, but because of it.
After a dominant performance last weekend against the Knights, Hayne might have expected some much-needed good publicity.
Finally he seemed unstoppable with the ball in hand again, something we hadn’t seen from him since he left rugby league to try his hand at NFL in 2014.
The polarising star racked up 161 metres, 11 tackle busts, two try assists and three line breaks in the dominant display on Friday night.
However instead of pats on the back, or even a desperately needed contract offer, the prodigal son of the Eels has been widely criticised.
The prevailing question: where was this form at the beginning of the season, when the Eels needed it most.
On a contract reportedly worth around $500,000 a season, the former Blues and Kangaroos star needs to provide more than a couple of late-season blockbuster performances to keep the critics at bay.
NRL 360 host Paul Kent was never going let Hayne’s form revival paper over the cracks from earlier in the season.
“You could write a book to it,” Kent told NRL 360.
“Contract time comes, he starts playing well.
“The history shows you that he generally has a quiet season the first year of his contract then plays the house down in his final year.
“Where Jarryd is right now was revealed by (Eels coach) Brad Arthur. They feel that they can safely hold him off until the end of the season before they begin negotiating with him. That’s because there’s not a lot of interest from elsewhere.”
It’s now been three years of underperforming at NRL level for Hayne, after he signed to play for the Titans in 2016 following stints in the NFL and with the Fiji Sevens rugby team.
A couple of good games around contract time certainly haven’t impressed Daily Telegraph journalist Paul Crawley, who questioned why it’s taken so long for Hayne to find form.
“The difference now is Jarryd knows that Jarryd’s playing for a contract and he’s set out to prove the world wrong,” Crawley said.
“If I had a chance to make the decision on Jarryd Hayne, he could win every man of the match between now and the end of the season and I still wouldn’t give him a new contract.
“The question I asked is why has it taken this long?
“That’s the thing that annoys me about Jarryd Hayne. He always seems to perform when they rip the rug from under him and he’s forced to perform. Where’s this been all year?”
However plenty of die-hard Eels fans were in a forgiving mood after witnessing the 30-year-old tear up the right-side Knights defence, with many calling for the club to re-sign the prodigal son.
#NRL Now, positivity. Tonight was vintage Jarryd Hayne and bloody oath, was it fun to watch. When he's on, is bloody well on.
You say he's playing for a new deal, I say he's playing with love and passion again. He's playing for pride in the Eels jersey that means so much.
— Ricardo Ascenso (@Ricky_A1) July 13, 2018
That was vintage @JarrydHayne tonight.
Whilst too many around him were fumbling and bumbling, Jarryd proved he is still an elite footballer. @TheParraEels deserved to lose that with poor completions.
Jarryd Hayne deserved to walk off a winner.
— Craig (@Sixties2153) July 13, 2018
He’s been pretty consistent since he returned from injury too. I’d be happy to have him back next year.
— Adrian Stanton (@acey_stanton) July 13, 2018
Jarryd Hayne 3-year deal @ Fullback from 2019. Thanks.#NRLKnightsEels
— Pluv (@Pluvva_D) July 13, 2018