Jarryd Hayne back in the NRL.

Hayne soars in NRL return

In the space of five minutes Jarryd Hayne reaffirmed what most in rugby league had hoped but dared not dream.

Coming on to replace an injured Josh Hoffman at left centre Hayne's first tackle was a try-saver that left Bodene Thompson struggling to recover.

His first touch of the Steeden was a soaring effort to claim a Nene Macdonald bomb just short of the Warriors' try-line and a subsequent offload to Zeb Taia from which his new team earned a repeat set and scored through Konrad Hurrell.

 


If he'd given us a glimpse of the skill that made him the best player in the game in 2014 25,109 people would have gone home happy but he stepped back in like last year's slippers and made you forget that he'd ever actually left.

In the space of 52 minutes he showed the full range of rugby league skills that would indicate his position for the remainder of the season will be in the halves and not at fullback, even feeding a scrum at one point in the second half.

Playing the entire second half at five-eighth Hayne delivered flick passes, kicks of various incarnations off both feet, twice forcing the Warriors into error and late in the game laying on a try for winger Anthony Don with a grubber in behind the line.

The 28-year-old would have liked back the no-look pass that was intercepted by David Fusitu'a and which led to the first of Solomone Kata's two tries but was otherwise content with his first-up effort after almost two years away.

"The more game-time I get wherever I play the more comfortable I'll feel," said Hayne, whose first Titans jersey was presented by club legend Mat Rogers.

"I wasn't really worried about my timing or my touch. Just the minutes in the legs. That's something that you can't get at training because of the contact and how ferocious it is out there on the field.

"Whenever you step onto an NRL field you've got to be ready to go so I just had to throw my body on the line there (to stop Thompson) and thankful I was able to pull it off and pull him up sort of the try-line."

 


Titans coach Neil Henry revealed in the post-match press conference that five-eighth Tyrone Roberts could be out until Round 25 with a posterior cruciate ligament knee injury, opening the door for Hayne to wear the No.6 next week against the Wests Tigers.

"It was probably a few more minutes than we thought he'd play but we were desperate for points as well. His personal performance, I'm pretty happy with it," said Titans coach Neil Henry.

Henry said that expecting Hayne to be able to play 80 minutes in a key playmaking role in the front line on Saturday against the eighth-placed Tigers was "a big ask" and suggested that he could be tempted to use him off the bench again.

"That's the reality of slotting in and everyone assuming he'd slot in and go to fullback and play 80 minutes at fullback and run around for nearly eight kilometres on the field," Henry said.

"He's not used to doing that. Off the bench in a role where he can get a bit of a break seems to be the fit for him and he'll look to be better for the run and be better next week.

"Whether that's centres or halves or fullback for a short stint we'll wait and see."

The loss to the Warriors and win by Wests Tigers over the Cowboys saw the Titans drop from seventh to ninth in the space of a couple of hours and they could fall to 10th if the Panthers defeat the Roosters on Monday night.

It was a risk to introduce a player of Hayne's influence at such short notice against a fellow finals aspirant but one Gold Coast captain Ryan James is adamant will have a positive effect in the coming weeks.

"He came on and had some really good touches," James said.

"He didn't look out of shape at all. He got his good rest, had a good little kicking game and good passing game and he was electric at stages."