Titans happy to lean on Hayne
He is the big-game player purpose-built for the big occasion and those within the Gold Coast Titans are expecting fullback Jarryd Hayne to come into his own this week.
With the club qualifying for the Telstra Premiership Finals Series for only the third time in their history – and the first since 2010 – a look around the squad reveals just how little semi-final experience there is.
Only Chris McQueen's nine finals games for the Rabbitohs exceed the eight Hayne played for the Parramatta Eels with his late addition to Gold Coast's squad set to reap even greater dividends against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
One tackle-busting kick return will bring the expected capacity crowd at Suncorp Stadium to their feet and a four-pointer would break his longest try-scoring drought since Round 19, 2011.
Hayne's performance against the Cowboys last week was his poorest since returning to the NRL five weeks ago, coming up with three errors - one of which led to North Queensland's opening try - and three missed tackles.
Having run for 220 metres against the Panthers the week prior, Hayne was kept to 69 metres from 11 carries by the Cowboys but is unlikely to be kept so quiet two weeks in a row.
He has played in finals matches, in the 2009 Grand Final in front of 82,538 people, Origins and Tests and Titans prop Luke Douglas says he is making himself heard as the team enters sudden-death football.
"We have got some big-game players and there's no bigger than Jarryd," Douglas said.
"He's played on the biggest stage over in the NFL and we've seen him excel and win Origin series.
"Nothing really fazes him, he takes everything in his stride and I know that he'll do great this weekend and hopefully that relaxed attitude can rub off on us and a lot of the young guys.
"He's one of the main speakers in the video and if he sees something, an opportunity that we should have taken or somewhere we could have been better, he's the first to pipe up and say something.
"He's played at the highest levels and you can't beat that type of experience. He's going to be great to have there."
Hayne's wait to play finals football again stretches back even further than the Titans, the 2009 decider against the Storm the last time he featured in post-season fixtures.
Still scarcely able to believe he picked him up so late in the year, Titans coach Neil Henry is also expecting the 28-year-old to take his game to another level in front of 50,000 at Suncorp Stadium.
"We expect a lot of him and he was kept quiet [against the Cowboys]," Henry said.
"We turned the ball over a little bit and we need to find a running game. That's up to our halves to link with him and we'll work on that this week.
"He's very motivated to play some finals footy. He was hoping he'd get that opportunity by being able to play this year and it's come true for him.
"He has got that experience behind him and we'll need him to draw on that.
"We'll need Birdy's (Greg Bird) Origin experience, we need those guys who have been on big stages before to bring that to the team. To bring the calming influence on the team but we also need the excited young players looking forward to playing in front of 50,000 people and put their best foot forward.
"You can just see the joy in their faces, the fact that they've worked since November to get an opportunity to play finals."
The do-or-die clash with Brisbane will be just the third time that Hayne has started at fullback at the Titans with Tyrone Roberts and Ashley Taylor in the halves.
Injury and illness has limited the work they have been able to do on the training paddock in recent weeks but Henry is confident that with two solid sessions on the training paddock this week that their combinations will be greatly improved.
"Our halves haven't played much footy together the last six weeks and with Jarryd at the back we've only had a couple of training sessions where we've had all three on the park," Henry explained.
"We'll get two this week, we're fairly healthy as a squad, we've got good depth so we'll get a quality session in tomorrow (Tuesday) and get up for a captain's run."