Hodges says Hayne should be centre of attention
FORMER Maroons great Justin Hodges says Queensland would be silly not to exploit Jarryd Hayne's defensive frailties at centre, but believes the Titans star's passion for the big occasion means he remains a danger man for the Blues.
Hodges was scathing of Hayne earlier this year, describing the two-time Dally M Medallist's blow-ups at younger teammates as a "negative vibe" that could be "infectious" for the team.
But Hodges has no doubt about Hayne's talent and says while the superstar's occasionally questionable edge defence will be tested, the upside of having the former NFL convert in the team outweighs the likelihood of a few defensive errors.
"I think they'd be silly not to (target him), but that just comes with inexperience," Hodges said.
"He hasn't played (at centre) for a long time and he sort of got pushed into that position.
"But you've got to pick him in your side. There's no player that likes a big stage more than Haynesey."
Hayne made his Origin debut on the wing and played at fullback in the Blues' winning series in 2014 - his last taste of action on that big stage.
But he will return as a centre, a position he has filled for the Titans in the past several weeks with varying success.
While he has made an impact in attack, Hayne has been exposed in defence, brutally at times, and the Maroons will not have missed the fact.
Hodges said while Hayne playing out of position could be a perceived as a weakness for the Blues, he deserved his spot.
"Look, it can be (a weakness with him at centre). I think with him and Brett Morris on that side, they haven't played together for a long period of time there," Hodges said.
"But he's played the last three weeks for the Titans there. He's not a genuine centre, he's more of a fullback/winger but he's Jarryd Hayne.
"He's one of those guys who thrives on the big stage, so you've got to have him in your side."
Justin O'Neill is charged with keeping Hayne quiet on Wednesday night and believes he is up to the task despite his own form having been questioned in the lead-up to Maroons selection.
"Hayne is a great player. He's got speed and is very good under the high ball and attacking the high ball," O'Neill said.
"So a lot of things to look out for."
O'Neill is likely to mine teammate Will Chambers for hints on Hayne after the Melbourne centre got the best of the Titans champion in their recent clash.
"We can look at some previous games he's played at centre. I know Chambers had some success on that edge against the Titans with Hayne," O'Neill said.
"So I can go to Will for a few tips.
"There may be some errors there we can look to exploit and expose."