Hayward taking it to the limit
Hayward taking it to the limit

Laid-back Western Force full-back Jayden Hayward has a real sense of the dramatic.

His brilliant individual match-winning try against Queensland Reds on Saturday night came with just 60 seconds left.

A year ago against the Highlanders, he dusted himself down after being tackled in the air to calmly slot a last-minute penalty and snatch the 19-18 victory.

And just a few weeks earlier in his first run-on for the Force and in his first game at full-back, he slotted 11 points in the 16-14 shock win over the Crusaders.

But Taranaki-born Hayward has taken it all in his stride since crossing the Tasman last year.

Before the move he had won 24 Super Rugby caps at centre with the Highlanders and Hurricanes and had taken only one disastrously hooked competition kick that barely got off the ground.

That changed a few days before the Crusaders clash last season when Force coach Michael Foley took a gamble, moved Hayward to the last line of defence and handed him the kicking duties.

"I remember Foles coming to speak to me," Hayward said.

"He said there was an oppor-tunity to play full-back, to go away and think about it and let him know what I thought.

"I went away and thought about it and thought well, 'it's an opportunity and I'm going to take that'."

The Force are chasing five consecutive wins after the 32-29 win over the Reds, but Hayward said Saturday night's clash with the Waratahs at nib Stadium would be a real test of how far they had come since they were beaten 43-21 by the NSW side in the opening round.

"We are not a different team, we just had to have a good hard look in the mirror," he said.

"We weren't sticking to our systems and structures and we got found out. The Waratahs dominated us in that first game and we are looking to turn things around.

"It will be a good test to see where we are. We can take a lot of confidence out of the last four weeks. There's a pretty good feeling among the boys.

"It goes to show that when we stick to our game plan, our systems and structures, we can come away with a win but we're only a quarter of the way through the season.

"We can't get too far ahead of ourselves. We've got a big challenge ahead."

The West Australian

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