Hayne Plane will be manna from heaven

CLEARED FOR TAKE-OFF: Former Parramatta Eels NRL player Jarryd Hayne poses with his new Titans jersey after a press conference on the Gold Coast.
CLEARED FOR TAKE-OFF: Former Parramatta Eels NRL player Jarryd Hayne poses with his new Titans jersey after a press conference on the Gold Coast. DAN PELED

WHEN I heard yesterday that the Titans had signed Jarryd Hayne, my first reaction - aside from genuine delight - was to phone a mate on the Gold Coast who is a Titans tragic.

But his cool reaction was unexpected.

He definitely wasn't as excited as me.

After digesting the news he agreed the signing of Hayne would be a plus for his Titans, but was concerned over two probable issues.

He reminded me that Hayne has been out of the game for two years, had played a season of NFL that required a totally different type of fitness and had virtually next to no physical contact in 2016.

My mate was also concerned that Hayne will be 29 when next season kicks off.

His other major disquiet was who the Titans would need to shed to bring Hayne on board, with speculation rife that he will become the NRL's highest-paid player.

The Rabbitohs have imploded this season after sacrificing some genuine talent to bring back Sam Burgess from rugby union.

But by the end of our conversation his demeanour had swung around to the glass-half-full assessment.

Being a keen golfer, he could certainly see the crowd-pulling magnetism of Hayne and likened it to Adam Scott returning to play the Australian PGA championship at Royal Pines in December.

Then, 10 minutes later, a text message arrived from my mate.

It read: "Great spine in 2017 - Hayne, Taylor, Elgey, Peats.”

He then added: "I'm sure King Henry (coach Neil Henry) and Annesley (CEO Graham Annesley) are smart enough not to unload too much talent to bring one player on board. Let the Hayne Plane land.”

While it's understandable that Gold Coast fans may have reservations about mortgaging the farm to sign Hayne, their thirst for success is also rational.

The glitter strip has fielded teams in the NRL premiership since 1988, with the best result an appearance in the 2010 preliminary final.

And this season the Titans have shown qualities of genuine finals contenders.

More often than not down on troops - in particular key players - they have fought most games to the very end and have won new fans on the back of that courage.

It goes without saying that Monday night's golden-point draw with the ladder-leading Sharks has been their 2016 highlight and the news of Hayne's signing, on the back of that fabulous game, should have the Gold Coast community buzzing.

And hopefully that renewed enthusiasm will be reflected in the crowd numbers for Sunday's vital clash with the Warriors.

If Jarryd Hayne shows the same commitment in his return to rugby league as he did to making it in the NFL, the Titans have a dead-set winner - on and off the field.

Topics:  gold coast titans jarryd hayne sportopinion tony durkin

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