BRONCOS coach Wayne Bennett has launched a passionate defence of Jarryd Hayne, urging critics of the besieged Titans fullback to get off his back.
On the eve of the Cowboys-Broncos derby at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night, Bennett hit out at media coverage of Hayne's off-field issues and critics of the superstar's attitude to training.
Hayne is under pressure to deliver against the Knights this Saturday following revelations he was kicked out of the Titans' leadership group after arguing with senior teammates over disciplinary-related fines.
But Hayne today found an unlikely ally in Bennett, who claims the two-time Dally M Medallist should be judged solely by his on-field performances.
"Jarryd Hayne is one hell of a football player, that's what he should be judged on,” Bennett said.
Jarryd Hayne's attitude to training has been questioned.
"At the end of the day, I've trained some of the best trainers in the world and they can't play.
"I've trained other guys who hated training and were great players.
"Jarryd needs to be judged on what he's done on the field. That's what he's there for, not (what he does) behind closed doors, whether he trains good or bad.
"That's up to him and his coach (Neil Henry) to work out. It shouldn't be national headlines.
"He has a unique talent and the unique ones are always more difficult to train, (but) they bring something that I could never coach and that Neil Henry can't coach and other players can't deliver.”
The veteran Broncos coach added he has coached generations of great players who may have been poor trainers, but always delivered in the heat of battle.
A classic example is Brisbane's greatest centre Steve Renouf, a self-confessed poor trainer who still managed to score a club record 142 tries from 183 games and represent Queensland and Australia.
"I can name 50 of them (lazy trainer) for you, but you guys (the media) have gone to another level,” Bennett said.
"One of the issues is the intrusiveness of the media right now. Every club has issues with different players who don't train great, OK?
"Most of them are your best players.
"You have got to a stage now with the media where I can't believe what you guys are writing and what you go digging for.
"At the end of the day, what Jarryd Hayne does on the football field is the most important thing, what he does off the field with regards to his training that's for the club to handle and it should be left there.
"It's terribly unfair on the players, what he does on the football field is what you should be reporting on, not what he does off the field. That's for the club to manage and for them to keep in-house.”
Bennett disputed suggestions today's NRL stars are well-paid professionals compared to top-liners 30 years ago who juggled jobs with football.
"The levels of professionalism haven't changed,” he said.
"I've coached them all back to the 1990s and early 2000s, the great guys weren't all great trainers and some present players aren't great trainers.
"In the past, the media never went down those paths. Our greatest players were not great trainers, they never made a headline because of that, they made a headline because of the way they played football.”
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