Brad Arthur isn’t one for showing emotion but even he got caught up in Jarryd Hayne’s return to the Parramatta Eels as the prodigal son admitted, “it’s great to be home”.
The Eels coach went up to Hayne before kick-off of Saturday night’s trial against the Newcastle Knights in Maitland to reflect on the enormity of having him back at Parramatta after a 1268 day absence.
“It’s great. I said to him before the game that we feel honoured to have him back and he should feel honoured to be back,” Arthur said.
“I love seeing him play his first game in a blue and gold jersey … he’s got a lot of close mates and it meant a lot to him to play with his close mates.”
Hayne, who played 60 minutes in his maiden hit-out for the season, played the first half at centre before playing at fullback in the second half.
All the talk leading into the game surrounded his fitness but when asked about his physical state, the 30-year-old was quite clear.
“I play football, mate,” a forthright Hayne told NRL.com.
Hayne set up a try mid-way through the second half, shrugging off a Knights defender to put Bevan French over in the corner.
“I pulled up a bit tight at half time,” Hayne told NRL.com.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to get back on. But it was good to get out there and set Bevvy up for a try. He’s a speedster. I got him a bit flat-footed but he has that much speed. He’s a freak.”
“It was good. Training and preseason is done which is always good. Footy is where it’s at, I think that’s where I enjoy it most. It’s awesome. It’s good to be out here. It was great to see all the Parra fans too, they’re just everywhere. That’s probably the biggest difference.”
Hayne admitted he felt right at home back at Parramatta.
“Oh, for sure. It’s been great,” he said.
“Just being out in western Sydney. It’s a bit more hectic than up the coast. I loved that laid back lifestyle. It is what it is. It’s great to be home. It’s great to see the fans and all their support.”