Brent Tate: Jarryd Hayne in JT's league
He has been back in rugby league for only a week but former Queensland and Kangaroos legend Brent Tate believes Jarryd Hayne stands alongside Johnathan Thurston as the two most marketable players currently in the NRL.
Like the 25,109 people who flooded into Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday Tate was captivated by the return of Hayne, getting a close-up view courtesy of his role as a commentator with Fox Sports.
Writing in this week's issue of Big League, Tate said the "carnival" atmosphere generated on Sunday owed a lot to the drawing power of a player who had been absent from the game for the past two years.
"I've been at the past few Titans home games and I've been amazed with the support they've been getting," says Tate.
"At the game last Sunday it felt like a carnival, similar to a semi-final. All the fans had their team colours on and were passionate about supporting the Titans, which was really nice to see walking into the ground.
"The Titans have had some dark days – they were at rock-bottom and the only way was up, so it's great to see them grow and continue to be marketable off the field.
"Having Hayne there is going to be a huge attraction and it's going to attract more crowds, sponsorships and corporate opportunities.
"He and Johnathan Thurston are the two most marketable players in the game at the moment."
Although he is a big personality thrown into an over-achieving team late in the season, Tate has no doubt that Hayne will have a positive influence on the players around him but says the long term is where he will have the greatest benefit.
Tate played three years at the Cowboys under current Titans coach Neil Henry and believes Henry will have a similar influence on Hayne that he had over Thurston during his five years at the helm in North Queensland.
"The signing of Hayne will also help coach Neil Henry," says Tate. "He's been a great mentor at the Titans over the past couple of years and he'll enjoy coaching Hayne.
"Henry had the chance to coach Johnathan Thurston for many years and look where Thurston is now. I think he'll have a similar effect on Hayne.
"The turnaround at the club can also be put down to Titans chair Rebecca Frizelle – she's done great things for the club. She's well-respected among players, coaches and the entire NRL community.
"She's also well-respected in the business community and has done a great job to turn the Titans around after a few lean years at the club."
The Round 23 issue of Big League is on sale now at newsagents and at the ground. The digital version is also available through www.zinio.com, Apple iTunes Store and Google Play.