As much as they strive to keep things normal, there is no escaping the enormity of Saturdays match against the Panthers at Cbus Super Stadium.
Put simply, a win and the Gold Coasters are finals bound for the first time since 2010, yet despite the hype surrounding the match new signing Jarryd Hayne says the Titans aren’t feeling the pressure and are instead embracing the big game build up.
“I think we all know how good Penrith is going and how good they are as a team and where we sit on the ladder as well, so it’s got that feel about it”.
It’s another match and another change of position for Jarryd Hayne who returns to fullback on Saturday for the first time since quitting the NRL to join the NFL, his selection coming at the expense of David Mead who has been named eighteenth man for the crucial encounter.
“It’s going to be exciting, I haven’t been there for a while, so another challenge in itself and playing against a good team.”
The former NSW and Kangaroos fullback quick to dismiss questions about possible selection fallout.
“No it’s a footy team and the coach makes that call and not me so, we have been playing for a long, long time and we know how it works”
On paper, coach Neil Henry has named arguably his strongest squad of the year for a match which offers plenty for rugby league purists with the Panthers who possess strike power across the field, up against one of this year’s best defensive outfits.
For Hayne though, the battle between young halves Ash Taylor and Nathan Cleary is worth the price of admission on its own!
“I probably haven’t seen two half backs come through as good as them and to be able to be so level headed and be able to just really get the simple things right.”
Defensively Hayne will call the shots and organise the Titans structures against the Panthers and while his proven ability to move in and out of the line in attack makes the Titans a much more dangerous proposition, Hayne expects to be tested for the full eighty minutes.
“Just watching them play in general they do put a lot of pressure on the fullback in general it doesn’t matter what fullback is there, they love kicking it high and really contesting the ball and they have some great playmakers as well”.
“I haven’t trained at one yet, so I will just do my best and try and get into that rhythm as fast as I can.”
When it comes to settling in on the Gold Coast and with his new team, Hayne says he now feels right at home in the Titans colours.
“I always knew it was going to take three or four weeks to settle in and physically and mentally comes around as well, it’s been great and the guys have been great and the organisation has been great towards me and they have made the transition a lot easier.”
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