Hodges: Make Hayne Titans captain

There are plenty of theories as to what the Titans need to do now to turn things around but the one I believe would have the biggest impact would be to make Jarryd Hayne captain.

And on top of that I think they should keep Neil Henry on as coach and insist that the pair get to a stage where they've got a common goal of winning a competition and bringing through those younger blokes in the squad.

A team's culture starts with the coach but you need strong leaders within the group to drive that because the coach is not in mixing with all the different groups in a footy club every day. He's got to leave that up to his senior players and make sure that they've all got a common goal.

Wayne Bennett's great strength as a coach is his management of players and giving extra responsibility to his leaders to make sure everything is running smoothly within the playing group.

The Titans let a lot of senior players leave at the end of last season and when you look at the group that they have now the leaders that they do have are all quite young.

There is not an obvious core of senior players who can drive the culture and set the standards that the coaching staff are trying to implement and you can see by the way they are playing the past few weeks that they are not united in what they are trying to achieve.

The younger guys are looking for someone to lead them and there's no doubt in my mind that if you spent a bit of time with Haynesy – put him into a leadership course and make him value how good he is and how big he can be for the club and the players coming through – you could really drive a better culture and get better results if you make him feel like he's the guy to make this happen.

 


He's copping a lot lately but on his day he's still one of the best players in the competition and we need him in our game. We just need to manage him better in terms of furthering his leadership abilities and giving him responsibility so he knows he has to stand up and really drive it for those younger players coming through.

He has captained Parramatta in the past and if you put that pressure and expectation on him I really think that he could thrive from that and better himself and make everyone around him better.

Haynesy will be 30 by the time the 2018 season kicks off and one of the oldest players in the squad and with some extra responsibility he is someone that could move between the senior players and younger ones to get the best out of everyone.

I was not a born leader and never really had aspirations to be a captain but the Broncos put me through leadership courses and I listened to the senior players coming through and I understood what the club was all about.

I knew what I had to drive and I knew that I had to get around the young boys to make sure they felt a part of the team. If you put a little bit of time into Haynesy and gave him that extra responsibility I think that he could really turn things around for himself and for that club.

As for his relationship with Neil Henry, I don't really think getting rid of one of them is the solution and the club doesn't appear from the outside to be able to afford to pay both out.

Quite simply they've got to sit down as player and coach and make it work.

Everyone has their differences, not everyone gets on in a football side but they've got to make sure that whatever differences they have they can't be shown.

They've got to be able to talk to each other as men and as leaders of a club that they want to see go forward to win premierships.

If they can do that and define what the club stands for with the other senior players then you will start to see a team willing to play for each other again.

Final thought

You could not be more impressed with the spirit the Cowboys have played with the last few weeks, they've been absolutely incredible. They lost Matty Scott in the first couple of weeks, lost Johnathan Thurston halfway through, they're without Gavin Cooper and Antonio Winterstein at the moment, they lost Michael Morgan and Justin O'Neill in a crucial game last week yet they were still right in the contest with 10 minutes to go. Paul Green's done a wonderful job to keep that side together and keep them rolling because they have had every right to roll over and decide it's all too hard. Even if they were to miss the finals they have done themselves proud. With all those players back fully fit and refreshed and the spirit of the team the way it is at the moment they're going to be a wonderful side to watch again next year.