But when Hayne runs out in tomorrow night’s State of Origin series opener in Brisbane he will be seen as the Blues’ weak link.
Queensland skipper Cameron Smith confirmed Hayne would be targeted at left centre after being exposed in defence the past three weeks for NRL club Gold Coast.
“We might be going down that edge a bit,” Smith said.
How times have changed since Hayne last donned the Blues jumper.
Starring at fullback, Hayne inspired NSW to the 2014 series win, snapping Queensland’s run of eight-straight titles.
Smith admitted Hayne had impressed at centre at the 2013 World Cup but believed “a lot has changed” since then.
“In that World Cup he was fantastic. I don’t think he started the tournament there but he came in and played there and absolutely played the house down,” Smith said.
“He was fantastic in the three matches that he might have played in that position for us, but a lot has changed since then.
“He went overseas and played a different game and came back.
“I think he’s only played the three or four matches at centre leading into this Origin.”
Hayne – who has lost 12 of his 20 Origin matches – will line up against Queensland’s Justin O’Neill.
Cowboys star O’Neill said he would pick the brain of Maroons teammate Will Chambers, who tormented Hayne barely three weeks ago in their Gold Coast-Melbourne NRL clash.
“I can go to Will for a few tips,” O’Neill said.
“There may be some errors there we can look to exploit and expose.”
Hayne may also be distracted by off-field matters.
He has a Wednesday deadline to activate a $1.2 million option in his Gold Coast contract and stay at the tourist strip in 2018.
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