Telling revelation in damning Hayne blast
JARRYD Hayne looks like he's saving his best for last - and that may not be a coincidence.
NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent has claimed Hayne's awareness he's chasing a contract has given the Parramatta centre added motivation that wasn't there in the early rounds.
Hayne starred against the Knights on the weekend, playing his best game since returning to the club this season following stints in the NFL, rugby sevens and with the Gold Coast Titans.
He clocked up 161m, 11 tackles busts and three line breaks to go along with two try assists in a two-point loss to Newcastle.
After returning to the Eels on a one-year deal worth about $500,000 a season, the 30-year-old needs to perform well enough in the final seven rounds to convince coach Brad Arthur he deserves a spot on the roster in 2019.
Hayne has been erratic and far from his best in a season in which he's struggled with injury, but he may be finding form at just the right time.
However, the stunning performance against the Knights has led people to question why Hayne hasn't unleashed similar efforts earlier in the year.
Kent also said Arthur's telling revelation the club was comfortable waiting until season's end to discuss Hayne's future meant there was a lack of interest from other clubs.
"You could write a book to it. Contract time comes, he starts playing well," Kent said.
"The history shows you that he generally has a quiet season the first year of his contract then plays the house down in his final year.
"Where Jarryd is right now was revealed by Brad Arthur. They feel that they can safely hold him off until the end of the season before they begin negotiating with him. That's because there's not a lot of interest from elsewhere."
Speaking to former NSW hooker Michael Ennis in an interview to air on Fox League on Thursday night, Arthur said the club would discuss Hayne's future at the end of the season.
"The challenge for him is he needs to repeat that (effort against Newcastle) for us every week because that's what he's here for and come round 25 we'll sit down and we'll have a conversation about what he wants to do next year," Arthur said.
"If his heart's still in playing rugby league in the NRL, we're the club for him and I'm sure he knows that.
"He likes a challenge, he likes a fight, Jarryd, and maybe that's what could entice him (to play on next season)."
Channel 9 sports reporter Neil Breen told 100 Per Cent Footy earlier in the week that the Eels were the only contenders to secure Hayne's services next year, prompting Manly icon Geoff Toovey to declare the ex-Kangaroo might not be worth the same pay packet he was earning in 2018.
"He hasn't put two seasons together where he's the best player for the club," Toovey said.
"I think he's a quality player at times, but you need to get him for the right price and you need to get him motivated and I don't know how you do that."
Daily Telegraph rugby league reporter Paul Crawley said he wouldn't give Hayne a new contract because of a selfish attitude that led to him playing at his best only when he knew a contract negotiation was coming up.
"The difference now is Jarryd knows that Jarryd's playing for a contract and he's set out to prove the world wrong," Crawley told the Monday Bunker.
"If I had a chance to make the decision on Jarryd Hayne, he could win every man of the match (award) between now and the end of the season and I still wouldn't give him a new contract. The question I asked is why has it taken this long?
"That's the thing that annoys me about Jarryd Hayne. He always seems to perform when they rip the rug from under him and he's forced to perform. Where's this been all year?"
Ennis cast doubts on Hayne's future in the sport last month following a lacklustre showing for Fiji against Papua New Guinea, questioning whether he had the desire to carry on.
"I'm starting to wonder whether Jarryd Hayne really wants to play anymore," Ennis said in June.
"His body language to me at times gives me a sense that he doesn't have that love for it anymore … I've just got concerns that he's had enough."
But Hayne's Parramatta teammate Mitchell Moses said seeing the two-time Dally M Medal winner carve up Newcastle prooved he was far from finished in the NRL.
"It looked like the old Jarryd was back," Moses said.
"The way he was skipping and beating players, it was with ease, like he used to.
"It was really good to just to sit back and watch him do that. So no, I definitely don't think he's done at all.
"Jarryd's the furthest thing from done and I hope he stays next year."
Hayne made headlines in the pre-season for supposedly being unfit, and Arthur admitted a move to fullback in round three probably came before Hayne was ready. But he's standing by the former NSW star, saying he's been a difference-maker for the Eels when in prime condition.
"On the weekend was probably our best game for us, but it's not coincidental, it's because he's fit. He's back to doing full training, his body is really good, so we need to maintain that and keep giving us a chance to win," Arthur said.
"Maybe, when I moved him to fullback in round three, it was too early. He wasn't quite fit enough to play that role. He came back against Manly, probably a week too early because he wanted to get out there for his teammates, and he made a real difference for us, that was our first win.
"Then his next return was against the Cowboys and if he doesn't play, we don't win.
"From there, his last four games, he's been in our best three players every week."