Just on the slight off-chance you’ve not already heard, Jarryd Hayne is reportedly on his way back to the Parramatta Eels in 2018 after letting Gold Coast Titans officials know he will not be returning to the club.
On the surface, this move shapes as an absolute disaster for the struggling Gold Coast club. Their highest profile player is moving on leaving them without their first choice five-eighth for the upcoming season and severely dented their marketing appeal as a result.
That being said, I can’t see too many tears being shed on the Gold Coast.
Hayne, for all his magnificent talent, is a distraction. A distraction that the Titans do not need.
He had occasional moments of brilliance while at the club, but for every match-winning run, there were three or four games of frustration for fans wearing Titans colours.
Hayne had only re-signed for the club earlier in the year on a massive $1.2 million one-year deal. With all due respect to Hayne, there wasn’t exactly a line of clubs looking to battle for his signature and you really got the feeling the Titans were the only option.
The Eels are reportedly willing to pay their former superstar around half of that deal. Hayne’s move looks to be prompted by family, and the sacrificing $600,000 for next season more than confirms that.
So now the Titans are armed with at least a million million war chest to chase players for 2018 and beyond.
The move also means that the halves partnership of Ash Taylor and Kane Elgey is allowed to mature. This can only be a good thing as Taylor is arguably the best young half in the competition, and Elgey had a wow of a debut season. If given time, they could produce something very special on the holiday strip.
The move also allows Garth Brennan a complete, clean slate as he moves into his first full-time head coaching role.
Although they were just reports and nothing was ever really confirmed, pretty much the entire 2017 seasons for the Titans was spent denying a Hayne vs Henry feud. Ultimately Neil Henry would be removed from his position after a disastrous season. It was pretty easy to point to the results although the whispers about Hayne playing a part in the decision never went away.
It reached a point where the genuine question became ‘were Hayne’s obvious talents worth it anymore’?
For mine, that answer is no. I’d dare say, for the Titans, that answer was also no.
The club is quite within its rights to block the move and insist on Hayne lacing the boots up for them in 2018. He signed a contract and a big one at that.
There is almost no chance they will do that. Firstly it would block a man who obviously wants to be closer to his family from being able to do so, and secondly, it makes perfect sense in footballing terms.
The Eels will, rightfully, be very happy with the decision. They have their best player of the modern era return to the club. The homecoming will be massive, and his arrival will round out a super back line.
Hayne will be allowed more freedom to play his own game at Parra. Being closer to his family will bring stability and surely help him focus on returning to his best footy. He never really fit in on the Gold Coast, that is pretty obvious. There were always reports he would return to the Eels once they sorted out their salary cap issues.
For the Titans, they walk away from the scene unscathed and armed with a huge amount of cash to rebuild their side.
It may be too late, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the club made contact with Mitchell Pearce. Although I’d love to see how the Elgey/Taylor combination develops, there’s no doubt Pearce’s arrival would be massive.
I’d also expect movement among the Parra books. Someone from that back line now misses out, don’t be shocked if the Titans extend the welcome mat.
This is rugby league’s worst-kept secret really. Perhaps the only rival for that title is the ‘secret’ that there will be a few half-hidden smiles among the ranks of the Titans brass after Hayne’s decision.
I don’t think he provided value for money last season, and given the distractions his massive profile always provides, I think the Titans are now in a better position to go about their business.