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Hayne's Henry spray latest strange play

Hayne's Henry spray latest strange play
The fallout from Neil Henry's sacking from the Gold Coast Titans has continued. Copyright: NRL Photos.

It should have been so simple.

Recognising the need to at least sate in some way the voracious media interest in the sacking of Titans coach Neil Henry and any potential part he may have played in it, Jarryd Hayne rang the club's media manager on his way to training on Wednesday to suggest he step up and say a few words.

He said that he didn't want his teammates to continue to have to answer questions relating to the supposed Hayne-Henry feud and so subbed in to "answer it for myself".

It started out innocently enough, with Hayne denying there was ever any feud between him and the coach and midway through even wished Henry all the best for the future. But in between his self-defence impulse kicked in and he gave voice to a conspiracy theory that the coach and a journalist were in fact plotting his downfall all along.

Ever since his arrival on the Gold Coast last August it's been hard to get a gauge on whether Hayne is a master media manipulator or someone with a malfunctioning filter who simply says what he is thinking and consequences be damned.

As a journalist, it makes for fantastic fodder and there has to be some level of respect for a player who can stand before a media scrum and speak without fear of repercussions. But it is always very much an individual stance that often invites unwanted spotlight on his teammates.

I can't recall an NRL player ever making such a suggestion as Hayne did on Wednesday and later that evening News Limited's Paul Kent spoke at length to stridently deny the allegations. Speaking on NRL 360 Kent said that the only contact he'd had with Henry this season had been to warn him the initial article was coming in March followed by Henry's phone call on Wednesday to relay the contents of what Hayne had said in the press conference.

Personally, I respected Hayne's ability to sit at a press conference lauding his arrival on the Gold Coast last year and speak about his disappointment at not being able to rejoin Parramatta if that was what he truly felt in his heart of hearts.

I'll take that over meaningless, manufactured sound bites designed to placate the hierarchy and sponsors every day of the week.

But it planted the seed that he didn't really want to be at the Titans, a seed that grew when he struggled to meet the standards expected early in pre-season.

He wasn't the only player fined by the leadership group and coaching staff during those gruelling summer months and he returned after Christmas looking in a physically good place, which is why Henry was so incensed by Kent's report surfacing on the eve of Round 1 questioning Hayne's commitment.

As he declared on Wednesday, Hayne was of the opinion that information contained in the article had been provided directly by Henry and stated that it was "something that really hurt me", putting doubt in his mind regarding the coach that lasted until after Henry's removal.

When he spoke less than 24 hours after the hastily convened crisis meetings last Tuesday Henry made his anger at the timing of that particular story abundantly clear and its destabilising influence between the coach and his star player eventually claimed its victim.

Any issue between the pair only came to a public head following comments made by Hayne in the wake of the team's 42-16 loss to the Dragons, Hayne convinced that another article by the same journalist calling for his sacking had also come at Henry's hand.

And so we come to Monday and after allowing Jarrod Wallace and Kevin Proctor to speak in favour of their coach despite his fate being sealed 48 hours earlier, Titans officials instigated Henry's dismissal which is not, as reported, as simple as a $400,000 golden handshake.

Annesley's evasiveness at the announcement of Henry's sacking is a pointer to a contractual fight that the club and Henry will soon be engaged in and any suggestion that he had lost the support of the playing group has the potential to work against Henry in any final settlement.

So how will Hayne and the rest of the Titans respond on Saturday?

Will an improved showing against the Bulldogs be a tribute to Henry or used as proof that he in fact was the problem?

Hayne admitted on Wednesday that he felt he had let himself down in his past two appearances and that mentally he hasn't been in the game.

Whatever happens on Saturday he will for some reason remain the subject of our abject fascination and hopefully after 80 minutes he'll have something more to say about it.

 

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