With reports that Jarryd Hayne wants out of the Gold Coast in favour of returning to Sydney, the question is who will sign the beleaguered star?
It caps off a dramatic year which saw the club sacking of Titans coach Neil Henry after an intense standoff with the enigmatic Hayne. The 29-year-old two-time Dally M medal winner is said to be turning down over $1 million after only recently triggering an additional year at the Gold Coast.
At his best, Hayne is a supreme talent who can do anything on the football field that he puts his mind to. However, his performances this season only offered disheartened and disinterested efforts, and it appears his best football could be well and truly behind him.
While Hayne would be a potential fit in the Bulldogs back line at fullback or centre – depending on where Will Hopoate is played – it seems highly unlikely the club could sign them when they’ve been forced to move other players due to salary cap constraints.
The Eels have made no secret that they have moved past Hayne returning to the club. But, if (and it’s a big if) coach Brad Arthur needs to find a suitable replacement for Semi Radradra, Hayne might be a possible consideration. Clinton Gutherson has cemented the fullback position for himself and Hayne’s only possibility could be to play at centre, in shifting Brad Takairangi. It’s a huge unlikelihood in terms of both on and off the field matters.
The Sharks welcome Josh Dugan and Aaron Gray into the backline next year with Valentine Holmes growing into the fullback role. Coach Shane Flanagan’s concerning focuses will be on how he shapes his backline with Dugan and Holmes set to battle for the number one jersey while the club continues to chase another playmaker – such as Matt Moylan or Mitchell Pearce – to replace James Maloney, who is seeking a release for a more lucrative deal.
Forget it. Unless Hayne offers to play for free, the Bondi club wouldn’t have the cap space after signing Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco, who is the obvious number one for a long time at the tricolours.
Manly Sea Eagles
It doesn’t make sense for Manly to add Hayne, apart for an added luxury of depth that Hayne would never agree to. Tom Trbojevic is a rising NRL superstar at fullback and Brian Kelly has been a revelation in establishing a formidable centre combination with Dylan Walker. There’s also no doubt that Daly Cherry-Evans and Blake Green’s halves partnership will continue to blossom.
It’s hard to believe Penrith boss Gus Gould wouldn’t steer clear of Hayne and his questionable attitude. This is the same man that oversaw Luke Lewis, Jamie Soward and Michael Jennings leave the club. But maybe Gould has the cards to turn Hayne around and rediscover his magic form. With speculation over Matt Moylan’s future, Hayne’s addition could cushion the possible blow.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Rookie coach Anthony Seibold taking the reigns signals a new era in South Sydney. With the addition of Maroons star Dane Gagai – who is almost certain to play fullback – Hayne could further strengthen the Rabbitohs’ strike rate in the backline. The cards point to Greg Inglis’s return coming at five-eighth but it’s an exciting possibility to see GI and Hayne partner in the centres.
St George Illawarra Dragons
After narrowly missing this year’s finals, the Dragons lose a lot of experienced campaigners including Josh Dugan. However, they’ve bought big in acquiring Ben Hunt and James Graham. While Matt Dufty looks promising at fullback, Hayne could be a valuable asset in the Dragons backline if he is willing to take a pay cut.
With the departure of fullback James Tedesco, the Wests Tigers could be the most logical fit for Hayne. While Tuimoala Lolohea is being groomed to a full-time switch from five-eighth to fullback, Hayne’s experience could assist the young Tigers team if he is willing to provide as a leading example at the club.