In light of all the criticism that has headed his way, based on the slow start to the year for both Jarryd Hayne and the Parramatta Eels, Eels coach Stephen Kearney has jumped in, to defend his star fullback ahead of their clash with the Dogs tomorrow night.
Hayne, who is aptly named – The Hayne Plane, has been in a bit of a dip of late, coming under fire from commentators even, for not producing a single line-break so far, Â in 5 games.
Whilst the method chosen by former coach Daniel Anderson was to blast the fullback for his poor form, new coach Kearney opts to take a softer approach to the matter, with Kearney believing that Hayne is doing is role for the club.
“We were all a bit off the pace last weekend against Melbourne,” Kearney told reporters on Thursday.
“We give a coach’s 3-2-1 and he was in all of my awards for the first four weeks.
“Sometimes we expect a lot form Jarryd in terms of the 80, 60 metre breaks.
“We forget that a lot of the stuff he was doing was coming out of the back field, coming off his tryline and that’s still very important for us, too.”
Kearney also said that he is not about to place any added pressure on Hayne to perform, in light of the freakish talents that the NRL world knows he is capable of.
“I don’t expect that from him,” Kearney said.
“He has a specific role within the group that we want him to fulfil and he’s doing that really well at the moment.”
Despite the fact that Hayne is yet to record a line-break for the season, the criticism in the eyes of some might just be a bit uncalled for, given that Hayne has 5 try assists, 13 tackle breaks and an average of 130 running metres to his name so far this season.
“You look at all our scoring opportunities that we’ve had over the last five weeks, 90 per cent of them he’s involved in,” Kearney said.
“The expectation on him is that we want the flashy, the 80 metre runs, 60 metre runs, but I’m happy with the way he’s going.”
With the Eels averaging only two tries a game per round so far, prop Tim Mannah said that the players are not solely relying on Hayne, nor expecting him to be the only one to dig them out of that slump.
“I think a lot of times (the pressure) comes from outside our group and he’s aware of that and he knows his job for the team,” Mannah said.
“It’s hard when a team’s not performing to their best and when you lose obviously they’re going to point the finger at players.
“He’s our go-to man so I’m not surprised that he cops a lot of the blame.
“In all fairness, it’s not one person’s fault.”