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Kangaroos hail freakish Jarryd Hayne

Jarryd Hayne's switch to the centres for Australia brought out his freakish best at the Rugby League World Cup.
Kangaroos hail freakish Jarryd Hayne
by AAP

By Liam FitzGibbon

MANCHESTER, England, Nov 30 AAP - Jarryd Hayne's switch to the centres for Australia brought out his freakish best at the Rugby League World Cup.

But while the Parramatta star would happily play in the position for NSW in next year's State of Origin, he insists fullback remains his true love.

Hayne capped an outstanding tournament with another devastating performance in Australia's 34-2 win over New Zealand in Saturday's final at Old Trafford, despite almost being knocked out early on.

While the 25-year-old did not add to his haul of nine tries at the event, he was immense in defence and caused havoc on the right edge.

His skill was on show time and again as he set up two tries for winger Brett Morris, one of which featured a piece of magic with a first-time volleyed kick.

"He's a freak," said Morris, who finished the tournament's joint top tryscorer along with Hayne.

"If there was a Harlem Globetrotters of rugby league, he'd be in it.

"He's been practising a lot of his soccer over here and it paid off tonight.

"To play outside him for the last couple of weeks is something I'll remember."

While Hayne has spent most of his representative career at fullback or on the wing, Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens' decision to pick him at centre ahead of several specialists ultimately proved a masterstroke.

He could line up there for NSW next season and his performances at the World Cup could cause a Kangaroos selection headache when Justin Hodges returns from injury next year.

"I don't really have any control over that," Hayne said when asked what would happen when Hodges returned.

"When I get given the opportunity I like to make the most of it and I can pretty much play anywhere.

"Everyone's talking about (playing centre for NSW) but for me, I really enjoy fullback and the sort of attacking side of that."

Hayne said he was dazed after knocking his head when attempting to tackle Kiwis captain Simon Mannering early in the contest, but he recovered quickly.

While Australia's attack was awesome, Hayne believes defence was the key to winning the tournament.

The Kangaroos did not concede a try in five straight games.

"The way we defend, it felt like we were savage dogs," he said.

"We were really hunting everything.

"...We got in the sheds last week (after a 64-0 semi-final win over Fiji) and felt like we lost.

"Everyone was quiet and just so focused on next week and we weren't satisfied until tonight."

Hayne's second-half soccer kick set up a try-scoring opportunity for Morris but it was only converted after the St George Illawarra winger put his body on the line.

Morris collided heavily with an advertising sign behind the short in-goal area, badly bruising his hip.

New Zealand's Manu Vatuvei did the same a short time later, just a day after the Kangaroos had voiced their safety concerns about the ground.

Morris, though, played down the incident.

"People are going to talk about safety issues or what-not but this is a historic ground," said Morris, a Manchester United fan.

"We were very happy to play there.

"Playing for Australia, you've got to put your body on the line sometimes and my main priority was getting the four points."


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