Hayne ready for Maroons in Melbourne
Jarryd Hayne is looking forward to playing at Etihad Stadium again after his dominant performance at the ground in 2009. Photo: Getty Images
While Blues coach Ricky Stuart has made his displeasure clear about travelling to Melbourne for game one of another crucial State of Origin series for NSW, Jarryd Hayne can see the brighter side.
The last time Hayne played in the city wearing NSW's sky blue rather than the royal blue of Parramatta, he produced a defining performance.
As Hayne arrived in Melbourne yesterday with his teammates and Stuart, he recalled his remarkable performance in a beaten side, in game one of the 2009 series.
"It was disappointing to lose, but it was an enjoyable week," Hayne said. "It's good to be down here again."
Hayne scored a try in the opening match of that series, from the wing. He was earlier denied another controversially by video referee Bill Harrigan, after he was ruled to have trodden on the touchline. "Hopefully there's a new video ref this time," Hayne joked.
Hayne continued his good form in game two in Sydney, scoring twice in what was a memorable series for him. He will be hoping history repeats, not in terms of the result of the series (a 2-1 loss) but rather his own performances, especially given his club form back then, as it is now, was down.
The Eels, in 2009, memorably gathered momentum halfway through the season, on their way to a grand final. Hayne knows the Eels' prospects are far gloomier this year, but he has still seen signs that point to a turnaround.
"It's a team thing," Hayne said.
"I remember watching the boys play against the Gold Coast when I was in camp, in Brisbane [in 2009]. I just had that sense that we were starting to come together.
"That's what sky-rocketed us through '09.
"I got a bit of a sense of that in Canberra [on Sunday]. Not as much as in '09, but there's something there.
"Look, there's a massive mountain that we need to climb. My focus now is on [Origin], but when I get back to Parra, hopefully we can just pick our game up."
As he was in 2009 at Etihad Stadium, he will be on the wing on Wednesday night at the same ground.
"I'm just thankful I'm in the team," he said. "I'm going to rip in during the week and on game day."
He has shown patches of brilliance for the Eels and has said, "I'm not out of form, but I'm not in it", but he is also one player who can suddenly find his game in the Origin arena.
"It's the adrenaline, and the build-up, and the team talks," Hayne said, trying to explain his habit of finding the game for the Blues that previously was not there.
Hayne expects the build-up for the opening clash to truly begin today at the first training run in Melbourne.
"We've only had a light session, to run over a couple of basic plays," Hayne said. "I think [today] will be D-day, the real start of the campaign."