Bennett blasts Hayne for Origin blunder
WAYNE Bennett rarely sticks the boot into rival players, but in the case of Jarryd Hayne's "selfish" blunder on Wednesday night, the supercoach was prepared to make an exception.
Just a few weeks ago, the Broncos mentor was gruffly calling for critics to lay off the former NFL star after his turbulent start to 2017 with the Gold Coast Titans and reported angst within the club's playing group surrounding his training habits.
But he didn't lay off the NSW centre on Thursday morning following the Hayne Plane's hot and cold performance in Queensland's 18-16 win in Origin II at ANZ Stadium.
While Hayne has been criticised for a number of clunky brain snaps, including his attempt to pull off a miracle round-the-back flick pass to Brett Morris in the first half, Bennett's greatest gripe with Hayne's performance in game two came earlier when the former Eels star butchered what should have been the knockout blow for the Blues.
After Valentine Holmes gave Queensland the perfect start, NSW enjoyed a period of absolute dominance, scoring three tries in 11 minutes to put Queensland on the ropes.
Hayne scored near the sideline on the back of a NSW overlap in the 16th minute.
Brett Morris finished off a slick linebreak dart from James Maloney in the 24th minute.
Then Mitchell Pearce popped up to finish off a sweet run from James Tedesco off the back of a clever short ball from Jake Trbojevic.
Suddenly it was 16-6.
A few minutes later, Hayne had the moment to surely kill off Queensland when he found himself two-on-one with Maroons winger Dane Gagai and opted not to throw the pass to unmarked winger Morris before he was wrapped up.
The try went begging.
It should have been the knockout punch. At 22-6, the game is over.
Bennett highlighted Hayne's decision, which was described by some Origin commentators as "selfish" and a "showboat" move, as one of the decisive moments that cost NSW the win.
"For Jarryd Hayne, there's no excuses for why he didn't pass the ball to Morris," Bennett told Triple M Brisbane's Marto, Ed and Robin.
"It's about taking your chances and Queensland, all through the second half, they just kept playing it out, playing it out. That's what makes them so good."
When asked if he was coaching Hayne if he would have given Hayne a spray, Bennett said Hayne simply had to know better than to run the ball on his own.
"Last night, I would have said it to them as they were leaving the field," he said.
"He's too good a player for him to do what he did. If he's a young guy just learning his trade and all that then that can happen. But that guy is a champion player and he made a very poor decision."
Bennett also highlighted Wade Graham's poor discipline as another moment where Queensland's class trumped the Blues' enthusiasm.
Graham firstly ran out of the line and missed a tackle on Maroons star Josh McGuire, leading to the Maroons' second try.
Then, with the game on the line, the Cronulla star was penalised for raking the ball out of the hands of a Queensland player, leading to Dane Gagai's staggering try in the 77th minute off the back of another miracle flick pass by Michael Morgan.
"NSW were pretty calm," he said.
"They were much better than they have been. It always gets down to the little things. There was two or three little moments in the second half that proved the difference. When Graham shot out of the line instead of staying put that second try doesn't happen."
Bennett said the Queensland victory was built around the selection changes made after the Maroons' 28-4 loss in the series opener.
"What they did in the second game they should have done in the first game," he said.
"The team they picked in the second game was the difference for them. It should have been done in the first game, but it wasn't. So they did change which was good and they got themselves a victory."