Hayne Plane: En route to Parramatta

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

By Mary Konstantopoulos, Mary Konstantopoulos is a Roar Expert

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68 Have your say

    If reports are to be believed, there’s a plane on its way from the Gold Coast to Parramatta and its arrival is imminent.

    Following the announcement by the Gold Coast Titans on Thursday afternoon that Jarryd Hayne had officially been released from the final year of his contract, it now looks to be a foregone conclusion that Hayne will be returning to his home, the Parramatta Eels for a one-year deal on a reported $500,000.

    As a passionate Parramatta fan, everyone wants to know how I am feeling ahead of any official announcement.

    I would be lying to all of you if I said this decision made me feel comfortable. In fact, I feel extremely uncomfortable about the likelihood of Hayne returning.

    When Jarryd left the Eels at the end of 2014, he left with my well wishes and full support. I had had the opportunity to watch this man grow up from an 18-year old rookie into one of the greatest players our game has ever seen right in front of my very eyes.

    He left my club to pursue his dream. He left what was comfortable to take a chance, with no guarantee of success and I respected him for it. He also said that if he ever returned to playing footy, it would be with the Eels.

    My opinion on Hayne increasingly soured after he decided to return home with an interest in returning to the NRL (via Fiji to chance his arm at making the rugby sevens team).

    When Hayne signed with the Titans, it not only flew in the face of what he had said about returning home to Parramatta if he ever came back to the NRL, but he also had the audacity to allege that Parramatta had not made him an offer. From what I understand, Hayne simply wasn’t brave enough to say what we all knew – that he went to the Gold Coast for the money.

    Jarryd Hayne Gold Coast Titans NRL Rugby League 2017 tall

    (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

    But it turns out that Hayne leaving the Eels was the best thing that could have happened.

    Since the Hayne Plane took off, plenty has changed at Parramatta. Players have come and gone. The club has had varying degrees of success on the field. The club went through a salary cap saga that brought it to its knees in 2016.

    During that year, I learnt more about the men at my club than I could have ever hoped for. Despite the walls closing in around them, the Eels showed a tenacity and resilience on the field that had been sorely lacking in previous seasons. Led by coach Brad Arthur and captain Tim Mannah, the men in blue and gold continued to play for each other – because that was all they had left.

    After the club burned itself down from the inside out, small shoots of life began to spring from the ashes in 2017.

    A new CEO. Making the finals for the first time since 2009. Talent like Clint Gutherson, Mitchell Moses, Bevan French and Cameron King. The fans returning in droves and having faith and confidence in their club again.

    The Eels were once again the pride of Parramatta and with Jarryd gone, other players had the opportunity to mature and grow up.

    No longer were we a team that just threw the ball to Hayne and hoped for the best. The players no longer had him to depend on, so others finally stepped up and began to develop as playmakers in their own right.

    Re-signing Jarryd Hayne feels like we are going backwards, not forwards. It feels like this will stifle the positivity and energy that surrounded the club this year, particularly if you believe the rumours that Jarryd Hayne is a disease. A coach killer. Lazy. A bad trainer. Arrogant.

    I want my club to continue to go forward, not backward and I’m finding it really hard to understand how signing Jarryd helps our club move forward.

    But here’s the thing about supporting a team – it isn’t rational and I have very little control over the decisions that make my club tick. Supporting a team doesn’t make sense. I essentially support a blue and gold jersey, no matter who is in that jersey.

    If Jarryd puts pen to paper, he again becomes one of my own. And I must take a deep breath and trust the process.

    What gives me comfort at this stage is that for the last couple of years, I have had every confidence in Brad Arthur. Up until this moment I have trusted him with one of the most important things in my life – my footy club – and he has not disappointed me.

    My hope is that it was Brad’s decision to take Jarryd back and that some very strict conditions have been imposed on his return.

    Jarryd must come into the Eels knowing that this is no longer his team. He is the one who is privileged to have the opportunity to wear the blue and gold jersey again alongside players like Tim Mannah, Nathan Brown and Manu Ma’u. There is also a new king in town – his name is Clint – and Jarryd will need to fall into line.

    I hope that no ill-discipline will be tolerated and that Jarryd will be treated like every other player. If he isn’t interested in training, he can sit on the bench. If he isn’t interested in being part of the team, then he can play for the Wentworthville Magpies.

    Arthur has demonstrated through players like Nathan Brown that he really does have an ability to bring out the best in players that others have given up on. He helps them to develop discipline, commitment and take their game to the next level. I hope he can help Jarryd do this consistently and every week.

    Is Arthur the man to lead the Eels out of the mire?

    (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Colin Whelan)

    I still have plenty of questions ahead. Where will Jarryd play? Will this only be for one year? Does this mean we will lose Clint Gutherson? Does Jarryd really want to come home?

    And I am still uncomfortable.

    But for the moment, if Brad Arthur is willing to take a leap of faith, then I’m ready to jump with him.

    If I had the opportunity to tell Jarryd anything it would be this.

    Jarryd, this really is your last opportunity. Many in the rugby league world think you are past it and that this decision is a mistake on the Eels’ part. That talent you had when you are 18 – it’s still there, just waiting for you to unleash it.

    Don’t waste this opportunity. Don’t make the club that believes in you look foolish. The fans have been through enough already. We want you, but we only want you at your best.

    And if you are ready to be at your best, welcome home. Now show us what you can do.

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

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    The Crowd Says (68)

    • December 1st 2017 @ 7:26am
      Flyboy said | December 1st 2017 @ 7:26am | ! Report

      Sorry Mary this bloke is no where near “one of the greatest players the game has ever seen”.

      • Columnist

        December 1st 2017 @ 8:24am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | December 1st 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

        Flyboy, at that point I truly think he was. You need to remove any thoughts you have about the Hayne you have in front of you right now. Back then in 2014 he was a prodigy and certainly was one of the best I had ever had the opportunity to watch.

        • December 1st 2017 @ 8:33am
          Flyboy said | December 1st 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

          I think that a more appropriate statement would be “at that point he had the potential to be”.
          He however never made it to those lofty heights.

      • December 1st 2017 @ 8:27am
        Adam Bagnall said | December 1st 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

        That was an ambitious statement, and clearly came from an Eels supporter. Hayne wouldn’t make the top 100 players of all time

        • Columnist

          December 1st 2017 @ 8:28am
          Mary Konstantopoulos said | December 1st 2017 @ 8:28am | ! Report

          In 2014 he certainly would have made mine.

          • Roar Rookie

            December 1st 2017 @ 11:09am
            Don said | December 1st 2017 @ 11:09am | ! Report

            Only his rep footy efforts separate him from a guy like Phil Blake.
            Both had a single massive season in their careers where their solo efforts drove their team. And both were long remembered by their clubs fans for that one magical season.

            Otherwise most fans outside of the JH fan club consider him a lazy and inconsistent club player capable of absolute brilliance when he wanted to.

            A frustrating and immature player when you compare some of his great efforts for NSW (this season aside) the dross he offered Parra when he went back to club footy.

      • December 1st 2017 @ 10:34am
        Glenn said | December 1st 2017 @ 10:34am | ! Report

        Flyboy, you don’t win 2 Dally M’s by being a rubbish player. Enough said.

        • December 1st 2017 @ 12:38pm
          Flyboy said | December 1st 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

          I’m sorry but 2-3 outstanding years, across the odd 10years he’s played at this level, doesn’t in my mind place you in, as Mary said “one of the greatest players the game has ever seen” category.
          Has lacked the long term consistency for me. Great player on his day, passenger in recent years.
          Maybe Parr will be a positive for him?

          • December 1st 2017 @ 1:26pm
            Albo said | December 1st 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

            The real problem for Parramatta and their fans is that Hayne has not shown even a glimpse of his prime 2014 form, since returning at the TItans or for NSW or more recently Fiji. The only thing he has shown is in being a major part of his team’s unrest at the Titans. He has slowed down physically & between the ears, and I would suggest that he will need to show a dramatic improvement in form for Arthur to pick him in the top Eels side.

          • December 1st 2017 @ 3:52pm
            Slane said | December 1st 2017 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

            I’d have thought wrapping up 2 Dally M’s would be enough to get anybody onto the list of all-time greats…

    • December 1st 2017 @ 7:52am
      Duncan Smith said | December 1st 2017 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      But Mary, look how much Jarryd did for the Titans.

      Betting markets to make the top 8 before and after yesterday:

      Newcastle $6.50 into $3.00
      Parramatta $2.50 into $21.00

      • Columnist

        December 1st 2017 @ 8:24am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | December 1st 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

        Should I jump out of a window now or wait till later?

        • December 1st 2017 @ 9:32am
          Duncan Smith said | December 1st 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

          I’d recommend that before round one, 2018, move into a room on the sixth floor of a twelve storey hotel. Every time Jarryd gets the Eels a win, move down a floor. Every time he gets them a loss, move up one. It’s your call from there.

      • December 1st 2017 @ 8:26am
        Chris Love said | December 1st 2017 @ 8:26am | ! Report

        Lol @$21. If tat were true I would be putting massive dollars down on that bet.

        • Roar Guru

          December 1st 2017 @ 9:05am
          spruce moose said | December 1st 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

          I’m definitely putting a $10 on if that’s the price.

          The Eels won’t be winning a premiership now, but will still make the 8.

      • December 1st 2017 @ 10:59am
        Jacko said | December 1st 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

        $21 for parra to make the 8????? Let me know where!!!!!!!!!

        • December 1st 2017 @ 1:01pm
          RandyM said | December 1st 2017 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

          surely its a joke, no team is ever that long to make top 8. The Eels will likely be top 4 again.

    • December 1st 2017 @ 8:29am
      Al said | December 1st 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      You’re the first person I’ve seen to allude to the fact that he could end up playing NSW Cup, Mary. At 500k, he’s eating up a fair chunk of the cap, but not so much that the Eels should feel obligated to play him if he’s underperforming. At that price, he’s got to show that he’s a better option at any position on the back line than the incumbents. If he can’t, it’s as you say, off to Wentworthville.

      • Columnist

        December 1st 2017 @ 8:31am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | December 1st 2017 @ 8:31am | ! Report

        I think you’re right to highlight the 500k, Al. Previously Jarryd would have been on a lot more and we know how hard coaches find it to put players eating up the majority of the cap in NSW Cup.

        I would be more than comfortable seeing Jarryd playing NSW Cup, particularly if he isn’t willing to put in the hard work to play at the top level.

    • December 1st 2017 @ 8:38am
      jamesb said | December 1st 2017 @ 8:38am | ! Report

      Arthur needs to be strict with Hayne from day 1, otherwise it may well be Arthurs own position that could come under scrutiny.

      Arthur needs to instruct to Hayne that he is not the main man anymore. Hayne has to conform with the rest of the team. And IMO, he is not worth no more than 400k. If only he passed the ball to Morris in origin 2.

      • Columnist

        December 1st 2017 @ 8:42am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | December 1st 2017 @ 8:42am | ! Report

        James, completely agree with you. Do you think that Brad can do that?

        I’m comfortable with Jarryd at the reported $500k. It no longer is Jarryd at the very centre of attention and hopefully that means he just becomes another player in the team without the pressure of being the star every week.

        • December 1st 2017 @ 9:04am
          jamesb said | December 1st 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

          The players played for him in that difficult year of 2016, so there is hope that Arthur can get the best out of Hayne somehow.

    • December 1st 2017 @ 9:01am
      Paul J said | December 1st 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      one of the greatest players our game has ever seen is an Enormous overstatement of this players ability & record.

    • Roar Guru

      December 1st 2017 @ 9:06am
      Adam said | December 1st 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      Where in the Eels backline does he play. Each and every incumbent performed better than he did last year. I think he should start in NSW Cup and earn the place in the side…At least Brad Arthur seems like he has the backbone to make that sort of call.

      • December 1st 2017 @ 9:26am
        BA Sports said | December 1st 2017 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        It will be interesting. The gap the Eels have is wing. Would Hayne be willing to go back to the wing? That would certainly answer the question of whether he is willing to put the team first.

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