In light of on-field blow-ups from star fullback Jarryd Hayne, Eels coach Stephen Kearney has defended Hayne, in light of people saying the blow-ups are not a good look for the team.

Hayne, who was caught berating several players in the Eels 38-0 loss to the Melbourne Storm, was criticised by many for doing so.

Rather than choosing to blame Hayne, Kearney wants his team to exude a similar passion to that, as they near their clash with fierce rivals, the Bulldogs, on Friday night.

“For anyone, it would be frustrating,” Kearney said.

“If you’re not [frustrated] I would be disappointed because it is not hurting you.

“He’s a competitor, like any of the other 270 players in the NRL. I don’t think that’s an issue.”

Kearney was asked if it healthy for the club if players were angry on-field and he said:

“When you are on the end of what we were on the end of yesterday … I don’t really know how you want me to answer that question.”

Kearney also believes that it is unfair to believe that Hayne is going to single-handedly resurrect the Eels season in 2011.

“It is an unfair tag to carry – and something I have been very mindful of,” he said.

“We can’t have a reliance just on Jarryd and we don’t have a reliance just on Jarryd.

“It’s not so much changing it, I think it’s the best thing for the group.

“When you play against a side like Melbourne, you look at most of Jarryd’s touches yesterday and he is picking the ball up off his tryline. As any fullback will tell you, that’s a difficult part of the field to work from.”

Kearney also gave full support to his current halves in Daniel Mortimer and Jeff Robson.

“Don’t single them out because it is very unfair to be just singling out the halves,” he said.

“They always cop the brunt when a team plays bad. It is always the halves’ fault.

“I thought last week they were good and this week, it’s a bit like the whole team – I am not going to single out the halves. It wasn’t just the halves who were untidy for those one/two tackles. It wasn’t just the halves who gave away those penalties they scored off the back of. It’s a team effort.”

Kearney concedes however that his team has a mountain of work to do, and must improve, as they brace themselves for their clash against the Dogs at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.

“It is one of those processes where you are taking a step forward, or a couple of steps forward, and then a shuffle back,” he said.

“It is something you’ve got to keep working through.

“You have to take into context who we were playing [on Sunday].

“And I know that shouldn’t matter, but I thought for periods of that first half it was a real arm-wrestle. They crucify you for every little error you make.

“They build pressure, they’re that type of team. We gave away two penalties in the first half and they scored tries on the back of them.

“Our completion rate was 90 per cent in the first half but two errors and they score.

“It’s going to be a time thing … I felt the guys were trying hard but they [Melbourne] are just a team where you take your foot off for one tackle or make that one error and they really crucify you for it.”

Kearney refused to respond to the idea that the Eels were no chance of making the finals, or if they had the attacking arsenal to do so.

“I am not going to sit here and tell you yes we are, no we’re not,” he said.

“All I will say is we’ve got some improving to do. Every week is an opportunity to make ourselves better.

“I’m not here to think about September – I’ve got Friday to worry about.

“They were disappointed which I wanted them to be.

“So they should be because we got beat by 38 points. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything and say we were jumping around doing cartwheels in the changeroom after the game.

“I would have been quite cross if that was the case.”

By ricky

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