Jayden Hayward has quickly become the forgotten man in the Hurricanes midfield.
Having made 11 appearances for the side in 2011, Hayward has been afforded nine minutes off the bench this season when he made a cameo performance against the Cheetahs back in round six.
Since then, the 24-year-old has had to get used to spending his week in Wellington training with the squad before he makes the regular commute home to turn out for Eltham-Kaponga in the Taranaki club competition.
"At least this is an opportunity and a chance to take the field," he said yesterday. "It definitely has been frustrating but at the end of the day I just have to keep working hard and keep putting my hand up for selection."
Hayward's lack of opportunities has come as a direct result of Tim Bateman's sound form in the No12 jersey, while Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has usually opted for Charlie Ngatai or Alapati Leiua to come off the bench.
This season's lack of game time continues Hayward's mix of fortunes in Super Rugby.
After two seasons being used as a bit player at the Highlanders, he was only included in the Hurricanes wider training group last year but ended playing the most he ever had.
Despite not turning out for Eltham-Kaponga every week, Hayward has been in good enough form to be the top try scorer in the senior A competition, having dotted down seven times.
"It's just good to be able to go back to club rugby and get some contact work in and it helps that I really enjoy playing for my club," he said.
That time away from the Hurricanes playing squad of 22 has, in some ways, made him feel like a bit of an outsider at times, but he still felt he was contributing to a team that sits just outside the top six.
"You do feel a little left out but it's a good culture down here and as you can see from the results this year, we're all working hard for each other and everyone wants to be a part of it," he said.
With three games left before the June international break, the Hurricanes desperately need points against the top Australian franchise side, which has been struck by injuries to key players.
That's meant a reshuffle in their backline where Zack Holmes will make his run-on debut for the Brumbies.
With such limited game time this season, Hayward knows he can be caught out by trying to do too much when or if he gets on against the former two-times Super Rugby champions.
"I guess I just have to go out there and concentrate on having a good work rate, and try to get into everything, without trying too hard," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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