Don't blame Hayne: Kearney - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Don't blame Hayne: Kearney

By David Beniuk 14/04/2011 05:25:40 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta coach Stephen Kearney has leapt to the defence of fullback Jarryd Hayne amid suggestions the NRL superstar is in a form slump heading into Friday's crunch game against Canterbury.

The Hayne Plane has hit turbulence in the opening weeks of the competition - he's been criticised by commentators for not registering a single line break in five rounds of football.

Parramatta have managed just two wins under new boss Stephen Kearney and are still reeling from last weekend's 38-0 humiliation by Melbourne.

Former coach Daniel Anderson infamously questioned Hayne's form in June last year, sparking a return to some of the freakish play that had taken the Eels to the grand final in 2009.

Kearney preferred the softer approach on Thursday and is adamant Hayne is performing his role as the Kiwi coach goes about rebuilding the Eels.

"We were all a bit off the pace last weekend against Melbourne," Kearney told reporters on Thursday.

"We give a coach's 3-2-1 and he was in all of my awards for the first four weeks.

"Sometimes we expect a lot form Jarryd in terms of the 80, 60 metre breaks.

"We forget that a lot of the stuff he was doing was coming out of the back field, coming off his tryline and that's still very important for us, too."

Kearney said there was no pressure from him for Hayne to recapture the freakish form of the past two seasons.

"I don't expect that from him," Kearney said.

"He has a specific role within the group that we want him to fulfil and he's doing that really well at the moment."

Apart from the dearth of line-breaks, statistics suggest Hayne isn't travelling as badly as some pundits would have it.

The 23-year-old has come up with five try assists and 13 tackle breaks, running an average of 130m per game.

"You look at all our scoring opportunities that we've had over the last five weeks, 90 per cent of them he's involved in," Kearney said.

"The expectation on him is that we want the flashy, the 80 metre runs, 60 metre runs, but I'm happy with the way he's going."

The Eels have averaged just over two tries per game so far this season but prop Tim Mannah said the players weren't expecting Hayne to dig them out of that hole.

"I think a lot of times (the pressure) comes from outside our group and he's aware of that and he knows his job for the team," Mannah said.

"It's hard when a team's not performing to their best and when you lose obviously they're going to point the finger at players.

"He's our go-to man so I'm not surprised that he cops a lot of the blame.

"In all fairness, it's not one person's fault."

The Eels will run into a Bulldogs outfit desperate to get their season back on track after their three-win honeymoon was ended by successive thrashings from the Storm and St George Illawarra.

Canterbury will be hoping hooker Michael Ennis' mind is fully on the job after he was linked to a reunion with Wayne Bennett at Newcastle despite agreeing to a three-year extension with the Dogs last month.

The Eels have won eight of their past nine against Canterbury, all at the Dogs' home ground ANZ Stadium.

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