Hayne braces himself for Hodges test - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hayne braces himself for Hodges test

David Beniuk 29/06/2011 05:52:05 PM Comments (0)

Likely NSW makeshift centre Jarryd Hayne is bracing himself for the massive challenge of containing Test star Justin Hodges in next Wednesday's State of Origin decider.

Hayne is expected to run at left centre when the Blues train fully for the first time on Thursday with six players in their 20-man squad under a fitness cloud.

Regular centre Michael Jennings is among the most doubtful with an ankle injury which has prevented him playing since Origin II two weeks ago.

Left winger Hayne will move to the unfamiliar position if Jennings fails to pull through, marking up directly on fit-again Kangaroos centre Hodges, who will be at his hungriest in Queensland legend Darren Lockyer's last Origin game.

"He is Origin for Queensland, he's one of their X-factors so he's obviously going to be one of their main players that can break the game open for them," Hayne told reporters as the Blues watched boxing champion Danny Green train for the bout with Antonio Tarver later this month.

Hayne is still to be told by NSW coach Ricky Stuart whether he will spend Thursday's session running at centre, but the Parramatta fullback has no doubts he will be able to handle the role.

"I've obviously thought about it," he said. "I still don't know what will happen, Ricky hasn't said anything yet.

"But obviously there is a slight possibility so it's something that I've thought about but that's as far as it goes.

"I played a little bit there in the second game so I wouldn't be in deep water ... but in Origin it's an extra level, it's a lot faster, a lot more physical and you've pretty much got to play perfect."

Chief playmaker Mitchell Pearce said Hayne's move would make little difference to the Blues' attack but would require them to reset their left-side defensive structure, which the halfback is also a part of.

"It's a different combination in defence," Pearce said. "Definitely in defence we'll have to work.

"I don't think it will change (in attack) too much for me.

"If Haynesy plays there, he's definitely got the ability to break the line better than anyone so I don't think it will change too much.

"I think he could play anywhere to be honest."

The Blues will learn more about injuries to Jennings, backrowers Beau Scott (knee), Ben Creagh (ankle) and Glenn Stewart (back), utility Kurt Gidley and five-eighth Jamie Soward (both hamstring) on Thursday, when Stuart begins piecing together a starting 13.

"That's our preparation and there's nothing we can do," Hayne said. "Ricky's done a fantastic job, all the staff have, of making sure everyone's right first and foremost.

"The majority of the team's from game two so it's not like we've got to learn a whole different game plan or something completely new."

Noted Blues supporter Green said he hoped the side would get a "gee-up" from watching his session, and it appeared to be working.

"It's good watching it because you can see how much focus they have, they get into the zone," Pearce said.

"I wouldn't want to fight him."

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