Of all fourteen starting backs set to take the field next Wednesday night none have been in as better form as New South Wales’ fullback Jarryd Hayne and his try-scoring feats.
The mercurial custodian has bagged nine tries thus far and sits just behind teammate Semi Radradra for most tries in the competition. Hayne has been in the kind of form reminiscent of his amazing run in 2009 where he was crowned Dally M Medallist.
There is no doubt Queensland will be spending plenty of time analysing Hayne’s game. The emphasis for the Maroons defensively will be on the Parramatta captain which makes the rest of the Blues’ three-quarter line all the more dangerous.
Brothers Brett and Josh Morris have combined for eight tries themselves with Sydney Roosters’ duo Michael Jennings and rookie wildcard Daniel Tupou bringing another ten tries to the table.
The problem for the Maroons is if they spend too much time worrying about Hayne’s running game, he’ll get them with his impressive passing game.
Things are a little more complicated for Queensland.
Justin Hodges is still yet to cross for a try this season while his centre partner Greg Inglis shifts from his preferred fullback position at South Sydney back into the frontline, Brent Tate is an aerial target on the wing while Darius Boyd has been a shell of his former self in recent times at the Newcastle Knights.
Then you have Billy Slater who has struggled for consistency and punch for the Melbourne Storm. He was fantastic on Friday night at ANZ Stadium, but Laurie Daley and the Blues must smell blood in the water.
Slater will not have the space to move against a ravenous sky blue defensive line that will be doing everything in their power to jam the legendary number one.
It is a clear-cut case of the scintillating club form of the Blues up against the loyalty and big match experience of the all-conquering Queenslanders.
In fact, the Blues starting backline have touched down for 32 tries in the NRL to Queensland’s 24.
Young Canterbury playmakers Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds will have a simple game plan to execute and will have to be perfect against the methodical Maroons. Yet you don’t sense fear when it comes to these young halves.
History is in front of them; it’s always been there.
But the key is Hayne.
At the peak of his powers he is the perfect attacking specimen. A blueprint for the x-factor player all coaches are looking for. With the ball he can burst through the line like a runaway train or he can beat you with his fast feet. He can run the hard line on the inside shoulder or he can bamboozle you as he weaves through traffic.
What Hayne’s form has done is take more of the focus for Mal Meninga and his staff away from his own team and their preparations and put it back onto the blue threat that will be coming at them from the back.
That focus also has a snowball effect, because if Hayne has one of those nights at Suncorp Stadium and the Maroons start to rush him, a Morris or a Jennings will be away before they know it.
But it isn’t just Hayne’s form on the paddock that has this writer excited.
It is clear that Hayne is a far more relaxed leader at Parramatta and is comfortable in his own skin. He is easy to speak to and his interviews are a vast improvement on even two or three years ago.
The difference this season is we aren’t hoping Hayne has a barnstormer against Queensland, we expect it, and even better than that is Hayne expects it too.
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