Positional switch: Jarryd Hayne.
Source: Getty Images
Please install the latest Flash player
BLUES coach Ricky Stuart has earmarked Parramatta's enigmatic superstar Jarryd Hayne to play in the centres in the State of Origin decider to cover for injured pair Will Hopoate and Michael Jennings.
According to league historian David Middleton’s official records, Jarryd Hayne has started 16 representative games on the wing, only two at fullback and none in the centres.
But don’t try to tell the Blues coach it’s a gamble.
Stuart still clearly recalls coaching the Kangaroos in 2007 when Manly’s New Zealand Test centre Steve Matai was sent off for decking Mark Gasnier, forcing him to move Hayne from the wing to right centre when the Dragons star left the field heavily concussed.
Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.
“Jarryd actually went really well,” Stuart said last night, “He’s got the class and the skill to play on the left or the right … it doesn’t worry him.”
Ironically, Hayne wasn’t considered good enough to play fullback ahead of Josh Dugan in game one and five-eighth was spoken about as his best position.
Eventually he was picked on the wing for game two and now he’s been earmarked to play left centre, inside Dragons winger Brett Morris who should be fit to make a comeback from a leg injury suffered in the first game at Suncorp.
Everyone in the Blues camp from the coaching staff to managers and players were seriously impressed with Hayne’s temperament and character in the build-up to the game in Sydney.
“He’s been great for the whole team,” Stuart said.
“He’s a quality football player and he wants to win Origin as much as any of the boys.”
The selection of Hayne in the centres and Morris rejoining the side on the wing are the only likely changes for the decider on Wednesday week.
There has been talk Trent Merrin is under pressure to retain his position on the bench from either Canberra’s Tom Learoyd-Lahrs or Cronulla Kade Snowden but it appears more likely he will retain his position. The Blues team will be announced next Sunday night before the Monday night blockbuster between the Dragons and the Sea Eagles.