Gold Coast fullback Jarryd Hayne has launched a stinging attack on sacked coach Neil Henry, despite denying the pair were ever involved in a feud.
The under-fire Hayne claimed the coach was using the media, rather than approaching himself directly, to work through any differences.
Hayne surprised journalists with an unscheduled media conference before training on Wednesday, saying the tipping point in the pair’s relationship was a media report which said the mentor didn’t support signing him.
Henry was sacked on Monday with club boss Graham Annesley attributing the fractured relationship between coach and star player as a factor in the decision.
Denying the pair had any “verbal arguments”, Hayne made a point of expressing his disappointment at what he alleged to be a “relationship” between Henry and News Corp journalist Paul Kent.
Hayne said he was upset to read Henry didn’t want him at the club, an accusation Henry later countered by saying his signing was a “mutual decision”.
The NSW Origin star said it was the second such disappointment after an article earlier in the year indicated the Titans mentor wasn’t happy with Hayne’s attitude at training.
Henry was not quoted in either unsourced article, the coach even expressing his own disappointment at the timing of the initial article while still in the job last week.
“For it to happen again really took me over the edge,” Hayne said.
“I’d rather Neil just tell me instead of a journalist write it.”
But Kent hit back at the claims, saying Henry was not the source of the story about Hayne’s poor training habits.
“Jarryd’s got it in his head that Neil is feeding me all this stuff for some reason to unsettle Jarryd,” Kent told Fox Sports’ NRL 360.
“He made that up because I didn’t speak to Neil.
“To say I’m a friend of Neil Henry’s like Jarryd’s alleged there, that’s not right.”
Hayne said he told Henry that he would leave the club if he was not wanted, before repeating it to a journalist.
The ensuing article prompted crisis meetings between Hayne and Henry and club hierarchy before an emergency board meeting that eventually led to the coach’s sacking.
Hayne said constant focus on his relationship with Henry, being described as a “coach killer”, had not really bothered him.
But the 29-year-old did feel for his teammates, hence Wednesday’s impromptu media call.
“It hasn’t been that bad because I understand the media; they sell papers, not write truths and that’s something I’ve become accustomed to,” Hayne said.
“It’s more my teammates getting asked questions of me, being under the pump with repeated questions.
“I thought I’d just speak up and answer questions about what you guys think was going on.”
Henry did not reply when contacted by AAP on Tuesday night.
Annesley said while Hayne was entitled to his view, the club had nothing to add.
“It’s about moving on now and getting on with the future of the club,” Annesley told Fox Sports.