Former NSW and Australian five-eighth Matthew Johns says Jarryd Hayne is to blame for Gold Coast's stunning fall from grace in 2017.
The Titans have gone off the rails this year after a season in which they exceeded all expectations. A young roster largely lacking in big names was supposed to be vying for the wooden spoon in 2016 but instead Gold Coast ruined everyone's tipping competitions by making the finals.
It's been a vastly different story in 2017 though. Since signing Hayne on a deal worth a reported $1.2 million a year at the back-end of last season after he returned from stints playing NFL and rugby sevens, the Titans' fortunes have suffered big time.
They now sit in 13th place above only Newcastle, Wests Tigers and Canterbury with an underwhelming seven wins from 20 games. It's a return no one saw coming after last year's heroics and Johns says Hayne, who's performed well below his best, has to shoulder the responsibility for the trainwreck.
"What we saw last year under Neil Henry - Neil Henry has proved himself over time he can coach - and last year people were saying, 'Who's going to come last? Either Newcastle or the Gold Coast?'" Johns said on The Late Show with Matty Johns on Fox Sports.
"They were incredible (to do) what they did to get to the finals. It was such an incredible coaching performance.
"Jarryd has arrived and he has thrown them off-kilter.
"The most handicapping thing for the Titans is when he arrived at the Titans there's so many of those young blokes, they would have been idolising him. He would have been their hero.
"But I'm sorry, the effort's just not good enough. The effort's not good enough."
That criticism comes on the back of Gold Coast's humiliating 54-0 defeat to Brisbane last weekend, renewing talk of a rift between Hayne and Henry. Further intensifying the friction is a report that came out this week suggesting Henry didn't want Hayne on the glitter strip, but was overruled by the club's board.
Queensland legend Justin Hodges singled Hayne out for a "selfish" play in the loss to the Broncos where he kicked the ball dead on the first tackle, further tarnishing a reputation that has already suffered this year in the wake of a string of less-than-stellar performances and a quiet State of Origin series.
Johns said Hayne and Henry's personalities just don't mix but as the marquee player, the representative star needs to lead the way for the rest of the squad.
"Neil Henry, his style of coaching is very much about discipline. Everyone is on the same level. If you're the most senior bloke or the junior bloke, everyone works hard," Johns said on the Triple M Grill Team.
"Hayne, it is no secret - that's not his go.
"It's really important that he gets out there and buys in every week and really leads by example as far as effort is concerned.
"When your hero leads by example ... then what do you do? You just follow. They've really lost their way the Titans."
Hayne's former Parramatta teammate Nathan Hindmarsh says watching the 29-year-old reminds him of how frustrating it was playing alongside him when he delivered so much less than what everyone knew he was capable of.
"This is really what's so frustrating about Jarryd Hayne the player. He's got so much ability but there's weeks where he won't bring it out to play and there's weeks where you flat out know he doesn't want to be playing rugby league on that day," Hindmarsh told Fox Sports.
"I tried for years and there were other senior players over the years who tried to get the best out of him.
"You want him to have a go."