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Eels forwards the focus for Wests Tigers
August 18, 2009 - 7:54PM
Not too long ago the Wests Tigers forward pack was considered easy pickings for NRL bullies, now they’re the key to shutting down the game’s most explosive star Jarryd Hayne.
Tigers assistant coach Royce Simmons on Tuesday revealed the plan to stop the golden run of Parramatta fullback Hayne and it has nothing to do with the champion playmaker.
Instead of worrying about what Hayne can do, the Tigers will be intent to just limit his opportunities to do anything at all.
Stop the Eels forward pack, dominate in defence, and the Tigers believe Hayne’s options will be cut down considerably in Friday night’s crucial NRL blockbuster at the Sydney Football Stadium.
“If you close their forwards down certainly you can shut him down, you can shut any player down,” said Simmons.
"If their big forwards start going around the middle of the park and get you going backwards then no side defends good when they’re going backwards.
"If you’re going backwards Jarryd Hayne is going to cut you up, so will Robbie Farah, Benji Marshall.
“We will be looking to control their forwards and control their offloads. If you can do that and your defence is on the front foot then you’re a chance at looking after Jarryd Hayne. If you don’t do that it won’t matter.”
Hayne is the hottest player in the NRL at the moment, with his freakish ability to break tackles, set up tries and cut through the defence a key factor in Parramatta’s five-game winning streak.
“Your kick-chase has to be spot on,” added Tigers utility John Morris, a former teammate of Hayne.
“You just have to be good in the tackle and expect the unexpected.”
While Hayne has been the star, his performances have come off the back of a Parramatta forward pack that has won the yardage battle in each of their five wins.
Simmons expects the Eels, led by Fuifui Moimoi and returning skipper Nathan Cayless, to try to bully the Tigers but he insists they can no longer be pushed around.
“They’ll come up through the middle of the park and try to bully us a bit,” said Simmons.
"I think probably in the past we could have been a little bit, not so much bullied, but I think in the past we tended to put a lot more effort into our attack.
“But now I think our focus has changed to defence so I don’t think we can be bullied now.”
Prop Todd Payten accepted the challenge from Simmons that the responsibility for stopping Hayne rested with the forwards.
“Their forwards have been going pretty good the last six weeks and getting the roll on and Jarryd has been going great off the back of that,” said Payten.
“It’s no secret how to win footy games, you’ve got to win the middle.”
But would Payten swap Hayne for Tigers star Benji Marshall, himself in sublime touch with two brilliant tries in his 100th NRL game last Sunday?
“I’d take Benji,” he said.
"His form is starting to pick up and he has been pretty consistent now for 8-10 weeks.
“They’d both be great to have but I’ve got to be loyal.”