Daniel Lane June 24, 2012
Believer … Blues superstar Jarryd Hayne, who has never won an Origin series, says belief is the key to NSW upsetting the Queenslanders in game three. Photo: Getty Images
JARRYD HAYNE has played in six State of Origin series and while he winced when it's mentioned he's still to hold aloft the victor's shield, he was deadly serious that would change after next month's series decider in Brisbane.
At just 24, Hayne is the hard-bitten veteran of the NSW team. His 15 games make him the most experienced player in coach Ricky Stuart's squad, and from the many tackles and hitups he's made - and the defeats suffered - he's realised the true core of the interstate contest.
''The only challenge about Origin is winning,'' Hayne told The Sun-Herald. ''That's it. NSW is at the point now where we're confident we can compete with Queensland. Not only do we have belief, but we know we can match it with them. We know if we do everything we'll train and prepare for [then] it's going to be good for us.
''At the end of the day it's in the hands of God and whatever happens, happens. We can only do our best. If we're all on the same page [as a team] and we play to our full potential in Brisbane, I'm confident of a victory.''
It had often been said NSW would never compete with Queensland until they matched their passion and fervent belief they were the better side. Hayne said while that feeling had been fostered under coach Stuart, there were harsh realities from losing the opening game of this year's series in Melbourne.
''We won every statistic in that game except the scoreboard,'' Hayne said. ''If you watched that game, you'd say the blue team won. We were the dominate team but we didn't put points on the board.
''We worked on that in game two and we showed what we could do … being able to contain their big guns was hard. They threw everything at us in conditions that weren't good for either team, but we got the win.
''Coming into game three we have to be even better; we can't just believe we can play the way we did in Sydney [and do it again].''
Stuart, who described Hayne as an X-factor before the series began, said yesterday he offered the team much more than rock-solid defence and breathtaking breaks.
''Jarryd gives people around him confidence,'' Stuart said. ''He prepares well and as a coach he's the type of player you know what you're going to get. He performs well at Origin level and I enjoy having him around because of the qualities he brings.''
The Parramatta superstar revealed the past Origin series defeats had left numerous scars, but with maturity he'd also realised there was little solace to be taken from being the best performer in a beaten team.
''There is a huge difference between winning and losing,'' he said. ''Huge. Even if you play well, a footballer reaches a point in his career where his performance isn't based on how well he played, it's just based on winning or losing. I think that's where it's at; lose and it plays on your mind because you wonder what you could've done better, whether you were the cause of the problem or could have done even more to help out.
''Winning is the complete opposite. The adrenalin runs and you're on a high. After we won game two, I remember that night as a great moment; stayed up, listened to music, and enjoyed that high of knowing you'd sustained a lot of pressure to win.''
Hayne knows the Blues will enter the lion's den, aka Suncorp Stadium, aka Lang Park, the overwhelming underdogs. However, he said NSW could turn the tables early and nullify the impact Queensland's parochial supporters have traditionally had on the outcome.
''The key to quietening them down is by getting off to a good start,'' he said. ''The more energy, or confidence, we give Queensland, the more vocal their supporters will get. I guess from a Queensland perspective they have the pressure to perform in front of their home crowd.
''We lift as a team when we play in front of our home crowd, and I have no doubt Queensland will lift and be twice as good as they have been already in this series. ''But, NSW know [this time] we can match them.''