Jarryd Hayne’s leadership behind the scenes has emerged as important an ingredient as his stunning on-field form in NSW’s quest to finally break Queensland’s unprecedented dominance of State of Origin.
Hayne looms as the Blues’ key figure in their quest to wrap up the interstate trophy in State of Origin II at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday.
But NSW skipper Paul Gallen says it is Hayne’s input in the NSW set-up away from the bright lights and millions of TV viewers that could be the difference between winning and losing.
“Haynesy has turned into a real leader not only this year but in past years as well,” Gallen said on Monday.
“He has turned into a great leader of this side.
“He is very vocal at training, not only this year but in the past couple of years.
“I have been really impressed with him this year and obviously he has backed that up with his performance on the field, which is what he has to do.
“There is no point coming to training and talking it up, you have to get out there and do it.
“He is in a good frame of mind at the moment at this level and at club level so let’s hope he can have another blinder.”
Hayne was instrumental in NSW’s Game I win last year, but his absence in the last two Origin clashes of 2013 proved crucial as Queensland claimed the series victory for the eighth successive season.
As they did in Game I at Suncorp Stadium the Blues are sure to rely on man-of-the-match Hayne in attack.
But Gallen is aware of the pressure NSW’s new right edge combination of Josh Dugan and Will Hopoate are set to come under, up against Maroons duo Greg Inglis and Darius Boyd, with Blues brothers Brett and Josh Morris sidelined with injury.
“They have both been at this level before, they have both played well at this level before, Josh Dugan has been awesome at this level before and Hoppa has obviously had a chance too and played really, really well,” Gallen said.
“I am more than confident in them.
“They have both fitted into the team and the structure really well, they know what to do and I’m sure they will do a good job.
“They have a massive task in front of them against that left edge.
“That is Queensland’s best edge and has been for a long time and probably in Origin history so it is big task for them but I’m sure they are up to it.”