The Parramatta Eels will clash with the Newcastle Knights in a pre-season trial at Maitland No.1 Sports Ground on Saturday 24 February.
Speaking with Triple M on The Rush Hour with MG on Thursday 22 February, Blue & Gold Head Coach Brad Arthur opened up about Jarryd Hayne returning to the Club and the expectations put on the footballer ahead of the trial.
“He’s been great. People like to make opinions about players from the outside looking in but it’s not unless you’re in the inner sanctum that you know exactly what’s going on,” Arthur said.
“While it’s been reported that his fitness levels aren’t great, they’re better than I’ve seen from him but he’s not the sort of person that’s going to win a 5km sand beach trial or 2km time sprints. But the stuff where we’ve got the football in hand and the more powerful explosive type training he’s been in our best five every time.
“He’s added a real class factor to our team - but the other part of it is, he’s not our team. He’s just Jarryd Hayne and he’s got a role to play in the team like everyone else and we’re not reliant upon him and he probably is enjoying that role as well, that he can just come and play his football.
“You know he’s going to have a bit of pressure on him but it’s not that we need him to do this or do that for us to be competitive.”
Hayne will line up for the Blue & Gold for the first time this season this weekend, named at centre, when the Eels take on the Knights in a pre-season trial.
Hayne signed a one-year deal with the Club and Arthur said Hayne has the opportunity to extend his stay with consistent performances each week.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen from there but it was always discussed with Jarryd that, 2018, come back, prove himself, earn another contract moving forward with the club,” Arthur said.
“Long-term, I’m sure we want and he wants to finish his NRL career at our club. But at the moment, he’s got to worry about this weekend, then the next weekend and making sure he’s consistent for us week-in, week-out.”
And whilst Hayne has been working hard on the training paddock, Arthur has also been impressed by fellow outside backs Clint Gutherson and Bevan French.
“We’ve got some really good trainers at the moment. Clint Gutherson, who I’ve got a lot of respect for and time for, he’s been training the house down for a bloke who’s got his second knee reconstruction - his attitude has still been first-class moving forward,” Arthur said.
“But Bevan French, he’s just gone to another level this year I think with his training and his leadership. He’s put on a bit of size and strength, upper body, and he’s at least starting to have a voice. So I’m expecting big things from Bevan this year.”
The Eels v Knights pre-season trial kicks off at 7pm from Maitland No.1 Sportsground on Saturday 24 February. The game will be live streamed on parraeels.com.au.