Bird: Hayne will boost Titans finals assault
Former New South Wales Origin teammate Greg Bird believes Jarryd Hayne can make an immediate contribution to the Titans' charge towards a finals berth after the Hayne Plane was given clearance to start playing for his new club effective immediately.
In a 20-minute press conference to herald his arrival on the Gold Coast on Wednesday, Hayne spoke about his desire to play football again in 2016 and how the Titans' ability to offer that opportunity was integral in him committing to the club for the next two years.
He could conceivably turn out for the Titans against the Warriors on Sunday but will undergo a thorough physical assessment by Titans medical staff before coach Neil Henry considers how to best utilise a player who has not appeared in the NRL in almost two years.
Speaking exclusively to NRL.com, Bird was in no doubt that the athlete he played 12 Origin matches alongside could slot straight back into the rigours of the NRL five weeks out from the finals.
"He was over in America training as a power athlete and then he went to Fiji and trained as an endurance athlete so I'm sure he could fit in to our scheme and it wouldn't take him long to pick up where he left off," said Bird. "He's a pretty talented bloke.
"He won two man-of-the-match awards in Origin playing on the wing, when we won the World Cup he played centre and killed it at centre and then his 2009 campaign he was at fullback and he killed it at fullback.
"He's a game-changer. He brings an ability to score tries on his own and create opportunities and we probably haven't had a real ball-playing fullback in the past. I'm sure he'll fit it into that role.
"Hopefully he can come in on our search for a finals campaign."
Although cautious about whether he was a possibility of playing against the Warriors at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday, Henry did admit that if he was deemed medically fit to play then he would be hard pressed to leave him out of the team.
Hayne will have his first training run with his new teammates on Thursday before the captain's run on Saturday morning where it will become much clearer whether his career as a Titan will begin this week.
"He'd like to play football this season and we can provide that opportunity for him," Henry said.
"If he's right to go we'd expect he could take his place this weekend but it will be subject to how he's feeling about his training and how many minutes and what position we can look at within our existing roster and with respect to the guys that are doing the job there at the moment.
"We'll talk about that but if he's right to go then he's right to go.
"If our fans can see him in a Titans jumper this weekend then that will be a real bonus."
Having walked away from the NFL in May Hayne linked up with the Fiji Rugby Sevens team with aspirations of representing the country of his heritage at the Rio Olympics.
When that dream came to an end in early July he spent a month back in Australia plotting his next move and having committed to the Titans is confident he can compete in the NRL sooner rather than later.
"The first couple of games it's more about getting back into it and getting that feel for the game again," Hayne said.
"That's probably the biggest thing and then after that the sky's the limit.
"I feel great, I'm in good shape. Obviously you can never prepare for an 80 minute game as much training as you want to do, you just need to be out there and in the mix of it.
"What got me [to the top of the NRL] was hard work and training hard and working well as a team. That's what I'm focused on and the rest will look after itself."