Hayne could play 80 against Wests Tigers
Titans medical staff say that superstar recruit Jarryd Hayne could be in a position physically to play 80 minutes against the Wests Tigers on Saturday while the club's former conditioning chief has cautioned against drastically increasing his workload in order to bring him up to NRL speed.
Hayne's 52 minutes in his first game in the NRL in almost two years was more than coach Neil Henry had originally planned but it will become invaluable in the coming weeks as he seeks to put game-time into legs that have seen precious little since leaving the NRL in 2014.
With Tyrone Roberts likely to miss at least the next two games a starting position for Hayne would likely come at five-eighth with his aerobic base not in a position where he could handle the demands of playing fullback just yet.
Hayne's presence would take some of the pressure off rookie half Ashley Taylor and also free Henry to add Ryan Simpkins to the bench as his utility option able to slot in at hooker or in the back row.
The 28-year-old two-time Dally M Medal winner conceded that there were times late in the second half of the Warriors' 24-14 win where he was struggling physically to keep pace with the game but Gold Coast's head of strength and conditioning Matt Ford told NRL.com that he could conceivably play 80 minutes this weekend.
"It wouldn't be unreasonable to think that he could do it straight away but we've got to weigh all that up and look at the dynamics of the team," Ford said.
"Judging on how he went on the weekend, he could do it sooner rather than later, but that's going to be more a coaching decision as to the balance of the other players in the squad.
"Given that's his first rugby league experience in a couple of years, we'd be silly to try and throw any extra load on top of that first game on this six-day turnaround.
"After this week we've got consistent seven-day turnarounds leading into the end of the season so it's over the next couple of weeks that we'll be able to see how he's pulling up after the games. In those seven-day turnarounds we can work out whether we can do any extra work with him or not.
"He's still quick, he's still powerful, he's still strong; it's just going to take a little bit of time to mould all those attributes into what he needs to be as a rugby league player again."
Now working with the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns in the NFL and NBA teams the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies, high performance consultant Tim Gabbett was brought in by Henry to work with the Titans last year and was an interested observer of Hayne's return.
He warned of the exposure to injury should Hayne's athletic load be increased significantly in a short space of time, adding that he was "in good hands" with the accomplished Ford and the rest of the Titans coaching staff.
"I don't think it will take him that long to get up to 80 minutes. It seemed like he handled the day pretty well and he still had some touches of class there," Gabbett said.
"If he can get his chronic training loads up high it will actually protect him against injury; the trick is how he gets there.
"If he spikes his acute load, which is what he does on a weekly basis and tries to ramp up his loads too quickly, that's when he runs the risk of breaking down.
"If he wants to get there quickly, he's running the gauntlet.
"Fatiguing elements such as accelerating and decelerating, change of direction, blunt force trauma from collisions and the eccentric load that comes from wrestling causes a heap of muscle damage so it will take him four days to recover completely from that game on the weekend.
"It's pretty hard in that four-day period to get any decent work in and then he's got to back up on a six-day turnaround.
"It just shows what a class player he is. To be able to slot into it after that length of time off is very impressive."
In the immediate aftermath of his first game as a Titan Hayne himself said he would like to be able to put his body through additional conditioning to fast-track his game fitness but was conscious of pushing his body too far too quickly.
"I'd love to, but it also comes to the time of recovery and being able to push my body to a point where you're not going to break it," Hayne said.
"I've got full faith in the coaching staff and for me that's definitely something we're going to have to look at to speed up my game influence.
"We've got a six-day turnaround this week and we'll sit down in the next day or two and see whether I have to do it or whether it's more just getting through the week and get ready for the Tigers.
"Definitely with the seven-day turnaround I'm sure we'll add something in there."