Complex history reunites Hayne and Hoffman
Josh Hoffman has Parramatta Eels 'prodigal son' Jarryd Hayne to thank for his own arrival in the Blue and Gold Promised Land.
He's even more grateful the local junior didn't push him out the door again.
Come Sunday Hoffman will find himself outside Hayne on the Eels' right flank, taking on neighbourhood rivals Penrith Panthers in his first NRL outing since last June.
Eighteen months ago, it was Hayne touching down on the Gold Coast, along with fellow mid-season signing Konrad Hurrell and Englishman Dan Sarginson, that forced Hoffman out of the Titans and eventually to Hayne's old stomping ground.
In rugby league's roundabout way, Hayne has since joined Hoffman again at Parramatta, and will line up at right centre for his 200th game in a career like few others.
Before it was revealed that Hayne would sacrifice some $700,000 to return to the Eels, speculation mounted that the club would have to shed players to fit him in, but Hoffman insists he didn't fear for his future when news filtered through of Hayne's homecoming.
''I was excited about having here and looking forward to what he could bring to the team that we have,'' Hoffman said.
''It's good to see him back. He was probably the first person I spoke to when I moved down here. I asked about the club and how it was and he thought really highly of it.
''It's good to have him here, the prodigal son of Parramatta, everybody loves him here.''
Hoffman turned 30 on Saturday, and having been forced out of both the Titans and his junior club Brisbane Broncos, has been around long enough to sniff the breeze when players are constantly being linked to his position.
Semi Radradra's big money move to French rugby has seen plenty of big names, including upcoming opponent Josh Mansour, mentioned as possible replacements for the Fijian flyer.
With a knee injury bumping Hoffman to the first grade fringes midway through 2017, and then Parramatta's impressive backline depth keeping him there, the former Kiwi international knows his versatility is one of his best assets in sewing up a spot of his own.
''I'm pretty lucky that I can fill in any position. I think that's something that's helped me,'' Hoffman said.
''Being at the Broncos and Titans I've been lucky enough to play in different positions in the outside backs.
''When one player leaves there's always that thought in the back of your mind 'another player will come'.
''But that just makes my job even harder so I've got to make sure I get myself 100 per cent right and in the mix for selection.''
Hoffman watched the Eels' first finals appearances since 2009 from the sideline last season as Kirisome Auva'a moved past him in the pecking order.
While Clint Gutherson's return from an ACL rupture has been pushed back to round eight, youngsters George Jennings and the highly rated Greg Leleisiuao are still pushing for a start in Brad Arthur's game day 17.
Hoffman in turn hopes to make a home outside milestone man Hayne, and is more than happy to share his right edge with his old Titans teammate against the Panthers.
''I'm lucky that I've got a starting spot and hopefully I can cement that starting position,'' he said.
''There's no guarantees of what can happen in a season.
''I'm very blessed and grateful to have someone of [Hayne's] experience inside me and hopefully he can set me up for a few tries.
''I'll be outside him no doubt. There will be a bit of sledging between us, I'm looking forward to it, it's going to be a tough challenge up against a strong team. Hopefully we can go out there and match them."