JARRYD HAYNE might be the No.1 player in the game – and The Sun-Herald player of the year – but the Parramatta star has conceded he is almost no hope of unseating Billy Slater from the No.1 jersey for the Kangaroos’ Four Nations tour.In a stunning admission ahead of their departure for Europe, Hayne conceded that rival fullback Slater had the custodian jersey ”pretty much wrapped up”.Hayne has been in sublime touch this season and almost single-handedly lifted the Eels to their unlikely grand final berth after the wooden spoon appeared a more likely proposition midway through the season.This time last year Hayne was playing for Fiji, but a purple patch of form has earned him a Dally M medal, another crack at an Australian jersey and plaudits from his peers. Johnathan Thurston even described Hayne as the game’s best player, a title normally reserved for the Cowboys, Queensland and Australian playmaker.And in the latest honour to come his way, The Sun-Herald has named Hayne the top of this year’s class, pipping several big-name candidates – including Slater.Despite the accolades, Hayne isn’t expecting to be named at fullback when Australian selectors unveil their team for Saturday’s clash against World Cup holders New Zealand at Twickenham.”No, I don’t think so. Billy has got it pretty much wrapped up,” Hayne told The Sun-Herald. ”If anything was to happen, I’ll be available and happy [to fill in].”It’s all about getting onto the field at the moment, there are a lot of good players here. I’m just more worried about being in that starting 13.”Hayne, who inked a multimillion-dollar deal with Parramatta during the week, revealed his intention to become a one-club man.”I can’t see myself playing for any other club, I’ve been there since I was a baby,” he said.”It would be really tough for me to leave something like Parra.”The only thing left to tick off Hayne’s to-do list is a premiership win. The Eels came agonisingly close to Melbourne in the decider, but a nervous start proved costly.However, the 21-year-old believes the club now has the playing staff and experience to go one better next season.”I think so, the trend is that you’ve got to lose one to win one,” Hayne said.”That’s the way it’s been over the last couple of years so hopefully that continues. When you lose one you try not to remember it and just look forward.”Hayne might have forced his way back into the Australian squad, but he’ll be keeping a close eye on the other team he has represented at international level, Fiji, in coming weeks.The Bati are the top seeds in the Pacific Cup and will kick off their campaign against a qualifying nation at Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby this Saturday.The winning team from this tournament will compete against Australia, England and New Zealand at next year’s Four Nations.The Eels’ star described his time playing for Fiji in last year’s World Cup as the catalyst for his stunning turnaround on and off the field.”It was great, it opened my eyes and look what I’ve done,” Hayne said. ”I’ll continue to have something to do with them and I hear a lot from them, their board members and players. I keep in contact with them and it’s good.”Fiji’s assistant coach, Max Ninnes, said Hayne left the team camp a different person to the one who came in. However, Hayne almost missed out on the life-changing experience.”He was lucky to make the plane,” Ninnes recalled.”The Australian team wasn’t announced until the day before we left for Fiji.”The day before we left we got on the blower [after Hayne was omitted from the Kangaroos World Cup squad] and told him he had to do this and that to join us. It was such a rush.”I was on the train when his mother rang me asking ‘what does he have to do?’ I was going to the airport at the time. His grandmother looked after him and brought him to the plane.”More accustomed to the luxury digs the Kangaroos took for granted, Hayne was initially taken aback by the third-world conditions his adopted team experienced in Fiji. On more than one occasion, Hayne quipped, ”What have you got us into, Max?”.However, the experience had such an impact on him that Hayne refuses to rule out the prospect of again representing the Bati in the future.”After a while he started to realise he was Fijian. That’s pretty important,” Ninnes said.”He was adamant before we played Australia [in the World Cup] that they all go and get a tattoo. We’re talking a day before the game. That’s how important the experience was to him. Thankfully we talked him out of doing it the day before the game.”
Nanjing Night Net