NSW coach Ricky Stuart created plenty of debate last week after mentioning Jarryd Hayne and five-eighth in the same sentence.

It was part of the new Blues coach's explanation as to why Josh Dugan had been given the nod for the No.1 jersey over the Parramatta custodian.

Ricky said that the Raiders rookie had shaded Jarryd on form and that when it came to the structure of the team that he was looking to employ it was Dugan who he felt was better suited. He pointed out that for the Eels Jarryd was playing more in a five-eighth/receiver role and that with Mitchell Pearce and Jamie Soward in the side he did not need another such ball-player.

Whilst missing selection for tonight's game was a bitter pill for Hayne, the coach's explanation made a lot of sense.    

It did however create plenty of discussion as to Hayne's positional future.

On some Parramatta fan websites there was a chorus of calls for him to be immediately given the number six jersey for the blue and golds to "save their season". Others said that unless the change was made it would herald the end of his representative career.  

I don't concur with either call and can only hope that any decisions on his future role will be made after lengthy deliberation by the only people that count. Namely Steven Kearney and Jarryd himself.

What must be understood is that the two positions in question are completely different.

Don't forget that former Parramatta coach Daniel Anderson did select his most naturally gifted player at five-eighth and centre for the first eight games of 2009 with less than spectacular results.

Even the great Darren Lockyer found the transition somewhat difficult when he was pushed up in 2004, and he was a more accomplished performer than Hayne currently finds himself.

Brisbane also had the benefit of a special talent emerging in Karmichael Hunt to take over at the back, and to this day he still remains the youngest ever to make his first grade debut for Brisbane.

Ultimately Darren went from being the world's best fullback to the world's best five-eighth but it took time. At the moment Jarryd is still refining his game in one position and doesn't need the burden of trying to convert to another until he has a much better understanding of the game in general.

Among a myriad of differences the most obvious are the increased workload in defence and the aerobic requirement.

Moving up and back on every play is extremely taxing compared to the sharp, intermittent movement of a fullback during the course of a contest, and so too is being forced to carry a vastly heavier defensive burden.

Over the last month Daniel Mortimer has averaged 28 tackles per game (43 last week) and you can bet that every team would be sending traffic straight at Hayne in an effort to wear him out.

There is no reason to be in a hurry to put your most potent weapon in a position where his value could be lessened through fatigue.

Most importantly I am still convinced that he is a better runner of the football than a passer.

That may fly in the face of his efforts so far this year in which he has been the main provider for outside supports when it comes to creating tries.

In both clashes against the Cowboys in rounds 4 and 10 he was particularly successful with select deliveries directly leading to four-pointers.

Hayne fires the final pass for a Ryan Morgan try in Round 4

Hayne creates the overlap for a Etuate Uiasele try

Watch Hayne send Joel Reddy through a gap against the Round 10

Hayne finishes off another slick move down the right


Again in the Eels' dominant win over the Sharks in round 11, Hayne's pass to Jordan Atkins gave the winger time and space to stand up Matthew Wright to score.

Watch the Eels v Sharks highlights

No doubt Jarryd has wonderful vision with the ball in hand, but his running game is being under-utilised by being almost exclusively used as a second or third receiver. With all due respect, it is because there has been a lack of creativity in the side from which he could benefit.

We saw glimpses of his uncanny ability to run the ball in the opening half against the Bulldogs in round 6, where he waltzed through good defenders in Trent Hodkinson and David Stagg to score the opening two tries.

Watch Hayne's opening try against the Bulldogs

See the fullback's second try of the match

The beauty of Jarryd Hayne is that he has the capacity to run like Billy Slater with the added bonus of being able to throw Johnathan Thurston passes.

I also dispute the claim that he is a "lazy" player and I know that his Parramatta teammates are in no way critical of his contribution or input.

I do agree that his body language could sometimes be better, he definitely has to stop getting personal with opponents and his play-the-balls are too slow too often, but claims of a so-called on-field superior attitude are off the mark.   

He may wear his heart on his sleeve too much for some people's liking but it is never to the detriment of his effort.

In fact it hasn't been his freakish try-scoring runs or unlikely try-saving saving tackles or soaring spiral bombs that have won me over. It was his performance against Manly last season at Brookvale Oval in round 10 on an awful wet, cold and windy night.

All the headlines following the Eels' 19-12 victory gushed about his setting up the opening two tries before orchestrating the match-winning touchdown for Jeff Robson, all achieved after suffering a bout of concussion early in the contest.  

Whilst this was obvious, the most impressive and important part of his night was a number of runs out of his own in-goal in which he was absolutely belted. The difference between a line drop-out re-start and a Parramatta possession on numerous occasions was a matter of inches. Those inches were what won the game that night.

Hayne proved to me in that performance that he could play tough as well as brilliant.

Despite the conjecture over the last week I would much rather see Jarryd become a great fullback before becoming a great something else.

There may well be a time that he is steered towards five-eighth, but I hope it is later rather than sooner.