After coughing up a 20-0 lead, Parramatta Eels fans can be thankful it’s only the preseason.
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Jarryd Hayne has instructed his legal team to have a United States civil suit including a rape allegation against him sorted “as quick as possible”.
And it’s likely Parramatta will be hoping they do just that.
The Hayne circus returned to the Eels training base on Wednesday, some 35 months after he shocked a packed press conference in October 2014 when he quit the NRL to head to the NFL.
This time around, the mood wasn’t so upbeat. But the throng of cameras, journalists and microphones was far bigger.
Hayne attended Wednesday’s media opportunity supported by Eels coach Brad Arthur and long-time mentor Joe Grima.
The 29-year-old first reaffirmed his denial of the claims, then confirmed he’d hired a high-profile US lawyer to defend the case in court via a written statement.
Hayne first answered questions from Santa Clara investigators over the alleged December 2015 incident in May of the following year. By October 2016, the DA’s office decided there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed with a criminal case.
However, the woman, known only as Ms V, is now pursuing the two-time Dally M winner on claims of sexual battery, gender violence, infliction of emotional distress and negligence in a civil suit.
But Hayne insisted he wouldn’t be affected by the scandal possibly hanging over his head as the season kicks off.
“It’s just one of those things you’ve got to go through,” Hayne said.
“You’re going to go through a bit of adversity. As players we go through all sorts of things. This is the situation we’re in and I’ll go through it.
“I’m thankful from all the support from the staff and everyone at the Eels. It means a lot to me.”
Coach Arthur is renowned for preferring a low-key approach but Wednesday’s media throng rivalled the attendances throughout their scandal-plagued 2016 season.
Hayne has become a walking headline in recent years, but even by his standards this attention has been overwhelming on his return to Parramatta from the Gold Coast.
On Wednesday he expressed frustration at the media for questioning his family and approaching him while on a pre-planned trip to Israel.
When cameras converged on the Eels’ training on Wednesday, teammates could be heard joking it was obvious that Hayne was back.
Wednesday’s press conference should ease some pressure, but it seems inevitable the spotlight will return with each twist in the tale as the season approaches.
Hayne also has work to do on the paddock.
The NSW State of Origin star struggled to keep pace with the forwards as they ran laps on Wednesday morning, before he looked far more at home in ball drills after taking his six weeks off following Fiji’s World Cup run.
“The lungs were alright but I think it was more the legs – the conditioning,” Hayne said.
“A big 11 weeks before the season starts so it should be good and raring to go.
“I’m looking forward to getting back into the grind of things and the every-day type of sessions you get out west.”