Parramatta fullback Jarryd Hayne with the ball in the Round 20 National Rugby League clash against the Melbourne Storm.
Parramatta fullback Jarryd Hayne with the ball in the Round 20 National Rugby League clash against the Melbourne Storm. Joe Vella / SMP Images

Eel eager to cancel out poor season

EELS co-captain Jarryd Hayne admits winning the wooden spoon for a second-straight season was like undergoing torture.

But he is ready to put that behind him and stake his claim for a Kangaroos jersey when he runs out for the Prime Minister's XIII against Papua New Guinea next Sunday.

Hayne could only take the field 15 times for Parramatta, after a hamstring injury saw him miss eight games, but was a shining light in his team's dismal season, scoring eight tries.

He said he was now recharged after spending a week in New Zealand watching some rugby union, leading into his PM's XIII preparations.

And despite the widespread criticism outgoing Eels coach Ricky Stuart received for walking out on the club to return home and coach Canberra, Hayne praised the under-fire mentor.

"It was a torturous year for the team, but being co-captain at Parramatta has helped my game, and Ricky Stuart was a big part of that," Hayne told APN.

He also said he was looking forward to the challenge PNG is expected to put up.

"They'll have some real dangers like David Mead and James Segeyaro. They're a passionate side and they'll be full of beans," Hayne said.

"It's been a tough year, but I'm just trying to keep my head up and work for a spot in the Australian squad for the World Cup (in England and Wales starting on October 26)."

With the NRL finals in full swing, Hayne predicted minor premiers the Roosters would be the team to beat.

"They've got all the momentum and they're the best-balanced team - defensively they were switched on against Manly last Saturday night," he said.

- JOSH SPASARO



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