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Hayne likes Eels for Auckland Nines title

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/02/2017 Matt Encarnacion

Jarryd Hayne. © Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images Jarryd Hayne. Gold Coast star Jarryd Hayne has nominated former club Parramatta as one of the teams to beat at this weekend's NRL Auckland Nines.

The Eels are the nines' reigning grand final winners after defeating hometown favourites the Warriors but were stripped of the title as part of the punishment for salary cap cheating.

However, Hayne's old club is expected to contend for the crown again with a strong squad that includes nines skipper Corey Norman, Bevan French, Josh Hoffman and Semi Radradra.

"I think there's a lot of good rosters out there. Parra will be tough. The Sharks brought a good roster over," Hayne said.

"It's nine minutes. If you get the bounce of the ball, anything can happen.

"What I've been telling my guys, is to go out there, have fun, play for each other and when it starts to hurt, try to stay up because it'll start to hurt early."

Hayne was one of 16 nines captains to launch the event on Friday, alongside Norman, who is set to make his first appearance since his eight-game ban last year.

The Eels five-eighth was suspended by the NRL and fined $A20,000 ($NZ21,010) for a host of offences.

Hayne believes his ex-teammate is a natural leader.

"I think he's come a long way since he left Brisbane," he said.

"The way he played last year, he definitely lifted the team.

"Captaincy's good for him. I think it really sharpens him up and he embraces the leadership role as well."

Hayne is also stepping into the captaincy role for the Titans just six months after his return to the game.

He said veteran Ryan James would also play a leadership role in Auckland.

"I'm one of the oldest, one of the most experienced. I think we all really look to Ryan James as our leader, I know I do," he said.

"He's someone that's been there for a while and that's always good as a guy that's been there for a while, been there since he was a rookie and something that I've really enjoyed.

"Really good squad, really young squad and something we're learning as a group together."

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