Arthur confident Hayne is no risk
Brad Arthur sums it up best. "In 2014 he was Parramatta. Now we just need him to be Jarryd Hayne."
The Parramatta Eels coach insists the club isn't taking a risk bringing home the prodigal son, backing himself and the club to bring the best out of the 29-year-old in his second coming at the Eels.
Hayne's reputation has taken a hit since returning to the sport and the perception of him as a negative influence has stuck.
However, Arthur has leapt to the defence of Hayne, adamant he has had no difficulties with the two-time Dally M Medallist.
"I don't see it as a risk and I'm not prepared to put the club in jeopardy," Arthur told NRL.com on Friday night.
"It's a positive. He wants to play at our club. Who says it's a risk? Fans say it's a risk because they are all making comments around perception. Do you honestly know what happens at our club or what happened at the Titans other than what you get told by [other] people?
"All I know is how he was in 2014 at our club and I had no problems with him. He got the joint Dally M player of the year.
"He's going to come in and make us a better team. There's no 'we need Jarryd to do this or do that'. We don't need him to win games of football for us on his own."
In his conversations with Hayne, Arthur wanted to make sure the former Gold Coast Titans No.1 wanted to return for the right reasons. He offered what he thought was a reasonable deal, but around $700,000 less than what Hayne could have earned if he played on at the Titans.
Hayne didn't baulk. Nor did he hesitate when Arthur told him it would only be a one-year deal.
"In the conversations I've had with him, he's never been clearer in all his life with what he wants – and that's to play with Parramatta," Arthur said.
"He's making a very big financial sacrifice so that was a fair indication of his intentions and his motivation behind coming back. How many players in the game give up that sort of money? Most players leaving a club for another club go for more money not less.
"His heart is in this. You can see that whenever he plays with his heart in something, whether it's for NSW or for Fiji or in America, he performs. We're not desperate for anyone. We're in a strong position as a team and he's going to make us a better team. We're here to win a comp, we're not here to run fourth."
Arthur also gave Hayne no guarantees about where he would play. It is most likely Hayne will start the year at left centre alongside Corey Norman in defence, but that doesn't mean he won't command the No.1 jersey in time through his performances.
There's a fear among some Eels fans Hayne's signature could cost them the services of Bevan French or Clint Gutherson.
But Arthur has told Hayne the pair are pivotal to the club's future plans and will be given first crack at the No.1 jersey for the opening game of the season against Penrith at Panthers Stadium.
"Clint Gutherson and Bevan French are part of the long-term future at our club and potential leaders of our club," Arthur said.
"They know exactly where they stand. Gutho is not going to be fit for the early rounds of the season coming off an ACL and Semi Radradra has left the club and we haven't replaced him. Jarryd can play in the centres, wing, fullback and five-eighth. I've sat down with Bevan and Gutho and told them exactly where they stand.
"They have earned the right to have every shot at fullback. Jarryd's fine with that. He's very confident in his own ability and in his eyes he's going to do everything he can to get selected. But at the end of the day he's comfortable to play wherever is best for the team and he's made that clear to me."