JARRYD HAYNE made one firm commitment before he officially signed on to co-captain Parramatta in a season the club's long-suffering supporters crave success and glories.
"I'm me," he said. "I got here because I'm me and the way I've acted. I'm always going to be me."
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Jarryd Hayne in paint
Parramatta Eels player Jarryd Hayne gets body painted.
One of league's worst-kept secrets was confirmed on Friday – Hayne would share the on-field captaincy role with Reni Maitua while prop Tim Mannah was named club captain. In his first act as skipper the 25-year-old fullback dismissed any notion about him needing to stamp his authority on the team.
"I think it's already been done, that's why I got the nod," Hayne said. "We three boys didn't get it because we're going to do something different, we got [the roles] because of what we did in the past. I think we have to keep doing what we've been doing at training and during the week . . . stuff like that.
"[Being named co-captain] is a huge honour and something I'm looking forward to. There's an added pressure; the spotlight is on the whole team but it's exciting and it is a responsibility all three of us wanted."
Such forthrightness was obviously identified as the "right stuff" by a sports psychologist employed by the Eels to examine the club's top-grade roster to identify those players with the traits to lead.
"It was a very thorough search for the right people," coach Ricky Stuart said of the appointments. "We did profiling through Jonah Oliver, he's our sports psychologist consultant.
"We looked for a number of different qualities and values and a number of players profiled really well, and we're very happy with the three players who were selected."
Stuart admitted he was initially against the idea of having co-captains. "I was more looking at a captain and maybe a vice-captain, but it comes back to the huge commitment you have with the media and community attention and [appointing co-captains] is a good way to share the workload around, too," he said.
Hayne said he had learned a lot from predecessor Nathan Hindmarsh's style to lead by his actions and, before him, Nathan Cayless's tendency to ensure "the boys" were ready and by also being prepared to do "anything" for the team.
However, he admitted there were no leaders in public office from whom he could readily draw inspiration. "Society? I don't know," he mused. "I like Ray Lewis's leadership. He's an NFL player in America. I like his leadership and how he pumps his team up; really inspires me. They get me going. As for outside [sport], well, I couldn't say there is anyone I've watched all that closely."
Hayne admitted he'd call upon his own life lessons and the experiences he gained as a precocious talent who encountered bad situations – including the time he was shot at after an altercation during a night out in Kings Cross four-years-ago – for any "tough" heart-to-hearts.
"I've definitely been through a lot, especially in my younger days, and that's what makes [talks] that little bit easier," he said. "They [teammates] can learn from my mistakes and I can help them not make them.
"When people would talk to me [as a rookie] I'd always ask, 'Oh did you have problems? Were you like me?' When I talk to players I can say, 'We all have tough times' and when they realise that, I guess the best way to communicate is beyond the emotional level. If you've been through something it makes it easier to talk."
Hayne said while Australian sport was being dragged through mud because of a government-endorsed witch-hunt after ambiguous claims about drug-taking and match fixing, rugby league offered kids from all backgrounds a chance. "I think I'm a perfect example of what sport can do for someone," he said. "I grew up in the western suburbs and I'm where I am because of what I did when I was younger. Rugby league is like oxygen in the west, everyone plays league and enjoys it. It gives kids a good opportunity to get away from life and it gives them a chance to be competitive and to spend time with their friends.
"That was the aspect I loved about football as a kid and you see that still with the younger generation."
Log on for scores and reports from Friday night's Charity Shield clash between St George Illawarra and Souths and Saturday morning's World Club Challenge showdown between Melbourne Storm and Leeds Rhinos.