The last time Jarryd Hayne pulled on the blue and gold, he was pretty much the only player that could pull anything off for Parramatta.
But when the prodigal son plays his first game for the Eels in 1267 days on Saturday, Hayne has been promised he won’t be doing any of the heavy lifting this time around.
Parramatta coach Brad Arthur on Tuesday named Hayne in the centres for their NRL trial against Newcastle, where he is expected to partner Josh Hoffman on the right edge.
Arthur accepts there is plenty of anticipation around Hayne’s return – he was the game’s best player in 2014 – but insists there’s no extra desire to get their former superstar the ball.
“You know what, how we play is how we play. Jarryd’s got a role to play in the centres at the moment. That’s where he’s been doing the majority of his training,” Arthur told AAP.
It can be argued that Hayne has been a shadow of the player that helped him share the Dally M stage with Johnathan Thurston in his final season with the Eels in 2014.
That year, the former San Fransisco 49er averaged an impressive 178m per game, busted 132 tackles and broke the line 26 times.
In comparison, last year’s Fullback of the Year Billy Slater averaged 126m per game, busted 80 tackles and the broke the line 13 times.
“There’s going to be occasions where, because of the ability that he has, he’ll be able to break a game open or come up with something special just with his class factor.
“But we’re not expecting him to do anything outside of what the team needs him to do and we’re not relying upon him. He’s just going to make us a better team.”
Arthur named his strongest available line-up to take on the Knights, with Brad Takairangi making a notable start in the second row ahead of 18th man Tepai Moeroa.
New signing Kane Evans will make his first appearance for the club off the bench, while Hoffman and Kirisome Auva’a are the only wingers in a 22-man squad.