The mistake Titans made in signing Hayne
One of the men responsible for constructing the first Gold Coast Titans squad more than 10 years ago says the club was right to sign Jarryd Hayne last year but made one critical mistake that has come back to haunt them.
It was a day of high drama on the Gold Coast on Monday as both Hayne and coach Neil Henry were summoned to individual interviews with Titans CEO Graham Annesley and chair Rebecca Frizelle that were described as "open, frank and honest" before an emergency meeting of the board was convened.
That almost three-hour meeting was adjourned and an agreement reached that a final decision on the outcomes be delayed until all the information was received yet just an hour later reports emerged that Henry could be sacked in the coming days.
Henry declined the opportunity to speak with NRL.com on Monday evening but as attention centred on the decision to sign Hayne just over 12 months ago, Scott Sattler said that at the time it represented a sound business decision but with one fatal flaw.
After a succession of disappointing results on the field and off-field incidents that ranged from accusations of drug possession to drink-driving and public urination, the Titans were desperate for a public relations success story.
Signing a superstar of the magnitude of Jarryd Hayne in his return to the NRL was viewed by many as the Titans finally coming of age, expectations that were only heightened in his first few games back.
Hayne's first involvement in his comeback game against the Warriors on August 7 was a bone-crunching, try-saving tackle on Bodene Thompson and then a minute later he was flying high at the other end to almost score a try with his first touch of a Steeden in almost two years.
Six days later he kicked the match-winning field goal that would ultimately seal the Titans' finals fate and the wide-ranging consensus was that with a pre-season under his belt the 'Hayne Plane' would take off in 2018 and take the Titans with him.
That hasn't happened and Sattler says the club could have avoided the complex position they now find themselves in had they structured the deal differently and not given the power to activate a second year in his contract reportedly worth upwards of $1 million completely to Hayne.
"From a business point of view it looked like a really good decision. And if put in the same situation I probably would have looked at it and thought that this could give the club a really positive story," Sattler told NRL.com of the decision to sign Hayne last year.
"Twelve months ago it was a great idea. I'll have to admit that I bought into it as well and thought it would be really good because from a Gold Coast promotional point of view it would have been a really smart investment.
"But to do your due diligence you speak to the right people who are going to give you a frank and brutal assessment and then you decide whether it's actually going to be the right decision.
"I know Graham Annesley has said that they did their due diligence and there were comfortable with where they sat but I don't think they probably did the correct due diligence. They might have done due diligence and got the answers that they wanted to hear.
"It was the right business decision to sign him, it was the wrong negotiation tool to say that the second year was going to be his option.
"By June 30 [this year] if I was the recruitment manager I would have known that I wasn't going to renew that contract, because I would have been with him day in and day out and I would have seen the effect he was having on training ethics and those sorts of things."
Questions were raised about Hayne's leadership qualities throughout the pre-season but in an idea he first floated on Footy Qld on Channel Nine last Sunday, Sattler believes the Titans should consider making Hayne captain, a role he performed 35 times for the Eels.
"There's no in-between with Jarryd. You've got to make him captain and learn responsibility and be a team-focused player or, on form, you play him in Intrust Super Cup," said Sattler.
"The only reason he's in first grade at the moment is because of his pay packet and the expectation that next week he's going to explode."
As for the possibility of Henry being axed before his current contract runs out at the end of next year, Sattler is of the opinion that his performance to elevate the team into finals contention last year should be enough to see his tenure run its course.
"I think Neil Henry did a really good job with a bits and pieces team last year," said Sattler, who played 203 premiership games in his 13-year career.
"They wouldn't have made the finals if Parramatta didn't lose their points but in saying that they finished ninth which I think was actually a pretty good achievement for the team that they had.
"I think that Neil showed faith in the club when the club was on its knees and I think that the club needs to show him faith back and say that, at worst, you're going to go through until the end of your contract but you're on notice until the end of the year. Simple as that.
"I think Neil Henry deserves that at the very least."