Jarryd Hayne says he is battling niggling injuries and would not have been able to tender his match-winning performance against Gold Coast had he been forced to play for Parramatta after Origin games.
After being labelled a “f---ing arrogant prick” on the field by Australia teammate Nate Myles in the first half, Hayne smoked the Titans with a brilliant 70-metre try to set up a 24-18 win – the first Eels victory after trailing at half-time since 2010.
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“It was the brilliance of Jarryd Hayne that cost us the game,” said Titans coach John Cartwright. But Hayne argued strongly his startling intervention should not be seen as evidence coach Brad Arthur erred in resting him for two during the interstate series.
“We really had a plan for this, for my body to feel fresh coming into the back end of the year, and having a week off after Origin is part of that process,” he said.
“We were under some heat for doing it but deep down we knew what it was for and the way my body is, previously with injuries, we knew it would be the best for me and the team.
“It was discussed … in pre-season. You’ve got to be a bit smart these days. It’s not all about trying to be tough and being a hero and playing injured. It’s all about being out there and doing what I did tonight and winning games.
“My legs and my knees are definitely tough. I’m sitting at 105 [kilograms] at the moment and to reach the speed I reach and do the things I do, it takes a lot of impact on the body. Most blokes who are 105 are either front rowers or second rowers who hit the speeds I do. For me to hit those speeds puts a lot of pressure through my joints and my lower body.”
Hayne sliced through the Titans defence, fending off Greg Bird, before racing three-quarters of the length of the field and stepping Kevin Gordon for his gem of a try in the 54th minute.
“They did a good job on him up to that point, and then two or three bits of brilliance and he took the game away from us,’’ Cartwright said.
“It’s just he’s that good. There are two or three players in the game who can do that and he’s one of them.’’
It allowed the Eels to draw level with a Titans outfit who had lost their previous six home games and had stayed in a local hotel to mimic their more successful routine away from home.
Hayne then latched onto a flat pass from the outstanding Chris Sandow to put his side in front seven minutes later.
The 26-year-old said the clash with Myles was “tongue in cheek”. Myles commented: “I was just trying to catch him on the field, really.”
Coach Brad Arthur said the Eels “packed their attitude” and was pleased with the return of centre William Hopoate from a shoulder injury.
Cartwright said that despite the defeat, the club’s 2014 campaign was not over. “Our worst 10 minutes was after we hit the front.”
William Zillman and David Mead are due back from injury against North Queensland on Saturday night.