ST George Illawarra don’t need Jarryd Hayne to push for next year’s NRL title, according to former Dragons centre Matt Cooper.
The Dragons have been linked with making a play at Hayne this week, who remains unsigned by Parramatta as negotiations continue over his stay.
The Dragons wouldn’t publicly comment on speculation when contacted earlier this week, but it remains questionable whether they would have the room within their salary cap to offer a sizeable deal for the two-time Dally M Medallist.
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Cooper played with Hayne as a youngster at State of Origin level, and while he was unsure if the reports were accurate he didn’t believe there was a need for Hayne in the Dragons’ roster next year.
“If we were to sign him I don’t know where he would play,” Cooper told reporters at the Dragons’ announcement of an NRL game at Mudgee.
“We do have a great side at the moment. As much as he is a great player it would be hard to fit him into the side if we have a healthy side.
“If he signs here that would be great, he’s a great player and leader. But in saying that I think we’ve got the side that can win the comp next year.”
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Hayne, a former fullback, played the majority of last season in the centres for Parramatta before finding form on the wing late in the year.
Euan Aitken and Tim Lafai are well established as the Saints’ centres, while coach Paul McGregor must also find a spot for young star Zac Lomax after starring in the first week of this year’s finals.
There could however be room on the wing, following the departures of North Queensland-bound Nene Macdonald and the retiring Jason Nightingale.
The Eels have long said they want to keep Hayne, who wanted to wait until the end of the season before making a decision on his future but last week hinted at frustration over the lack of an offer via social media.
Meanwhile the Dragons will play their round-10 match in Mudgee on May 19, with an opponent to be confirmed when the NRL’s draw is released next week.
Originally published as ‘Where would he play?’: Legend says Dragons don’t need Hayne
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