The question must be asked: where to next for Jarryd Hayne? Whilst the obvious answer is Parramatta Stadium this Friday night, the future beyond that is far more difficult to predict. Hayne is now being hailed as League's $4million Man, and potentially the NRL's next poster boy. Man? Boy? Which one is it? He's probably not even sure himself. The in-form Eels fullback is still only twenty-one. That's three years younger than the loose-bowelled Nate Myles. If, indeed, age has much bearing on maturity, hopefully Jarryd has grown up fast. The future looks rosy for this blue and gold superstar in the most purple of patches. But this kind of attention is no walk in the park (or chip, chase and regather in the opposition half). Added fame comes with added responsibility. Brett Stewart found out that you don't necessarily get extra brains from being the face of the NRL. There have also been complications with the replacement face, Greg Inglis. Not so long ago Hayne was a kid blowing bubbles with his gum; now he must ensure that his bubble doesn't burst. Last year Hayne was the target of gunfire from the rear seat of a taxi. That was before he had reached his current lofty status. Still, it will be shots from camera-phones as much as weapons that he must be careful of from now on. Everybody will be watching him. It doesn't take much for players with his growing reputation to suddenly wake up to headlines of, 'League's biggest star is no shining light in latest drunken incident'. Hayne mania won't protect him from a fickle media. Just ask Matty Johns. This is not to say that he's destined for trouble. In fact quite the opposite is entirely likely. But he is undoubtedly destined for the possiblity of trouble, and would be naive not to consider this reality more than he does some of those spectacularly spontaneous plays on the field. From the NRL's point of view; might they be better served promoting the game with a reliable old head? A Petero or Price? A family man? Surely it's safer than gambling on youth. As the commentators keep telling us after giving sports betting agencies bigger plugs than you'd find in a giant's bathtub - please gamble responsibly. Are you listening David Gallop? For now let's sit back and savour Hayne's efforts. A Dally M and Australian jumper appear formalities. And it's encouraging to hear that despite being the toast of the town, he's on a self-enforced booze ban. Well here's to another knockout blow on Friday - figuratively, that is - this is not the time for controversy.
For more of Kalon, visit his blog leaguelarrikin.blogspot.com