Hayne’s tumultuous stint at the holiday strip appears set to end, clearing the way for a homecoming that has long been anticipated. The cross-code star has a year to run on a Titans deal worth $1.2 million, but the Queensland club isn’t expected to stand in his way after he failed to live up to expectations during a controversial stint.
The Gold Coast are believed to have been paying Hayne’s wages over the off season, despite suspecting he will walk out on the club after his World Cup commitments with Fiji were completed. The former San Francisco 49er will sacrifice about half of his salary to rejoin Parramatta, reuniting with coach Brad Arthur and teammate Tim Mannah, one of his closest friends.
Hayne has been a poor fit for the Gold Coast. While his signature has earned the battling outfit plenty of publicity, much of it has been negative. The 29-year-old had a falling out with Neil Henry which ultimately contributed to the coach’s sacking. Henry’s replacement, Garth Brennan, has subsequently employed three staffers close to Hayne – former Eels Luke Burt, Craig Catterick and Hayden Knowles. Brennan has bristled at suggestions they were hired to placate Hayne but, regardless, it appears none of them will get to work with him.
Even at the press conference spruiking his Titans signing, there was a feeling Hayne would rather be at Parramatta. He lamented the fact he was unable to come to terms with the Eels at the time, but it’s expected the parties will soon come to an agreement that will result in his return.
Hayne made his return from stints in both the NFL and Rugby Sevens in 2016, when he signed with the Titans for the remainder of the campaign, in which the club reached the finals.
Playing across a variety of positions, Hayne grabbed eight tries for the Titans across 23 games in his year and a half on the Gold Coast – but the club sputtered their way to 15th spot on the ladder this past year, finishing above only Newcastle to avoid the wooden spoon.
Despite making a return to the State of Origin fold for New South Wales this past year, Hayne failed to earn selection for the Australian squad for the Rugby League World Cup, and instead chose to represent Fiji, who reached the semi-finals of the tournament before being eliminated by the Kangaroos.
His stint with the San Francisco 49ers in the 2015 NFL season saw him take the field in eight regular season games, before joining up with the Fijian rugby sevens squad in an attempt to represent the island nation at the Olympics. He did not make the final squad for the tournament in Rio as Fiji went on to win the gold medal in the men’s event.