"I've always said his [Jarryd Hayne's] best position for us at the moment is fullback" ... Eels coach Stehen Kearney. Photo: Steve Christo
PARRAMATTA coach Stephen Kearney isn't sure where Jarryd Hayne best fits in the NSW line-up, but he is adamant his star fullback must be in the team.
Despite being mooted as a potential Origin five-eighth after playing in the No.6 for City, Kearney insists Hayne is still best suited to fullback for the Eels and will remain at the back for the match against Wests Tigers on Sunday.
There is still plenty of uncertainty around the make-up of the Blues side but, regardless of which players are fit for selection, Kearney believes NSW coach Ricky Stuart has to find a place for Hayne in his 17 for game one in Melbourne on May 23.
Hayne strain … Jarryd Hayne failed as five-eighth for City last weekend. Photo: Getty Images
''He needs to be in there somewhere, that's for sure,'' Kearney said. ''I think Ricky was after something different and to see what Jarryd could do in that position for City, but I've always said his best position for us at the moment is fullback.''
Hayne failed to make the most of the opportunity at five-eighth in Mudgee last Sunday, overshadowed by his halves partner Mitchell Pearce and finishing the game on the wing after an injury to David Williams.
The 24-year-old struggled to inject himself into the game, taking just 13 runs, compared to 25 the week earlier for Parramatta, where he won man-of-the-match honours in a losing team against the Sharks. He was also found out defensively, missing five tackles after Country peppered his edge all afternoon.
Hayne was also critical in his assessment of his display in the No.6 jersey last Sunday, admitting he didn't handle the transition as well as he'd hoped. ''It was a little bit different,'' he said. ''I guess Pearcey really took a lot of control. I know I sat back a bit. I was obviously disappointed with my game and a couple of things I did in the game. I wasn't happy with my performance. I've got to get back to my best and the rest will take care of itself.''
It's almost certain Hayne won't be in the halves for the series opener, but he's still in the running for three positions. The fitness of Josh Dugan and Brett Stewart will dictate where he ends up, but he's also being thrown up as a left wing and right centre option.
Hayne spoke to Stuart before the City-Country clash about where he stood, but he's yet to touch base since, playing phone-tag with Hayne. ''He called me, then I called him back,'' the Eels No.1 said. ''But we still haven't gone about getting in contact with each other yet. We touched base beforehand and he ran [the five-eighth selection] by me.
''He said he wouldn't put me there if I wasn't comfortable. He just wanted my opinion on it and I said 'yeah mate, that's fine, I'll have a crack and see how I go'.''
While Hayne failed to shine in the Origin audition, Tigers hooker Robbie Farah did his Origin chances no harm with a man-of-the-match performance for City.
The Origin discard has also received the backing of his club coach, Tim Sheens, who believes Farah deserves to be ahead of Knights hooker Danny Buderus in the race for the Blues No.9 jersey.
''He should be playing for NSW without a doubt,'' Sheens said. ''I think NSW has to work hard at what they're doing down the track and I can't see a 34-year-old Danny Buderus there next year, if he is there this year.
''[Farah] plays very well with Mitchell Pearce, and it would appear to me that Mitchell is headed for NSW. He's also played very well with [Todd] Carney going back to the Four Nations win in Eden Park a couple of years ago.''