Sheens: Show must go on without Hayne
The 'Hayne Plane' may have recently departed the NRL tarmac but the show must go on, according to Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens.
The Kangaroos squad assembled in Brisbane on Friday ahead of next Saturday's Four Nations opener against New Zealand, however the one notable face missing from the team photo was the former Parramatta custodian and multiple Dally M winner.
Jarryd Hayne shocked the rugby league community on Wednesday with the announcement that he'd quit the NRL to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL.
And while the shock of Hayne's departure is still reverberating amongst rugby league circles, coach Tim Sheens is directing his energies toward integrating an astonishing 11 debutants amongst the 24-man Australian squad.
"I think [Hayne's departure] has reinvigorated the team let alone the public who are going to want to have a look at the Kangaroos' new faces. It's going to be interesting and I think [the fans] are keen to see [the debutants] play in the jersey," Sheens said.
"We've still got a very good core of senior players – 15 or 16 of them have played State of Origin. So if you've played Origin I think you can play Test match footy."
Although the Kangaroos' mentor is fully supportive of Hayne's proposed switch to the NFL, he expressed some disappointment at the timing of his departure which came three days after the Australian squad was announced.
"I'm not going to delve into it greatly, but it would’ve been nice to know and not have to worry about it," he said.
"Obviously [Jarryd] had his reasons and at the end of the day we sorted it out and [Matt] Moylan came into the squad.
"[Moylan] was pretty happy and not worried about Jarryd leaving. He did really well in Papua New Guinea in the Prime Minister's XIII so we'll move on. It's like injuries – you get used to these things and the next bunch can come through.
"Time will tell but at the end of the day Jarryd's a quality player and we didn’t want him out. He's got an itch to scratch and he's gone off do to that."
Sheens said the team and its plethora of young talent simply had to move on without Hayne.
"In the meantime it just moves the younger blokes a little closer to being able to get a starting spot," he said.
"We've seen this with AFL and Rugby, you don't see it too often with NFL, but there's also French rugby and Japanese rugby, so who knows who else is after [NRL players].
"We’ve just got to move on. There have been some champion players not playing anymore who we thought we'd never replace… I'm sure they'll be more to come through, there's always the next generation."
While Sheens didn't want to dwell too much over the loss of one of the game's brightest stars, Kangaroos lock Greg Bird declared his admiration towards his former NSW teammate.
"I'm very proud of that bloke. The courage he's shown to walk away from a done deal [with Parramatta] into a goal and dream he wants to achieve," Bird said.
"A lot of people would take the safe road; a lot of people would just take their pay cheques and go about their merry way playing rugby league because that's what's comfortable for them.
"He's pushing the boundaries and I wish him the best. He's a great advertisement for rugby league with his skill and talent and if you can take that to the biggest stage in the world I think that's going to be massive."