Hayne’s future at sixes and sevens but not Eels
He could be playing Sevens for Fiji at the Rio Olympics, NRL for the Roosters and Origin for New South Wales ... but one thing Jarryd Hayne won’t be doing this year is lining for his old club Parramatta.
The next chapter in the never-ending story that is Hayne’s football career was shrouded in speculation after the 28-year-old announced his NFL experiment was over.
He had shocked the rugby league world at the end of the 2014 NRL season, quitting the Eels to have a shot at what he said was a lifelong dream to play American football. And after being signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent in March last year, he went on to play eight games, rushing for 47.5 metres and catching six passes for 25 metres.
He also returned eight punts for 69.5 metres.
While his transition initially captured the interest of a nation, his lack of understanding of the nuances of the game saw him given a reduced role before he was eventually demoted to the practice squad, although he did return to the active roster late in the season.
With NFL franchises running the microscope over their rosters before the start of pre-season games in early August, Hayne decided it was time to explore another dream – competing for Fiji in rugby sevens at the Rio Olympics.
“The past 12 months with the San Francisco 49ers have been absolutely incredible,” Hayne said.
“I could not have predicted how far I have come as an NFL player. To not only be able to play in a game, but also say that I started a game in the NFL is something that I will remember for a lifetime.”
He has already flown to London to link with the Fijian sevens squad before this weekend’s final round of the 2015-16 World Series, but Fiji’s coach Ben Ryan said he had not given Hayne any guarantees.
“I have no promises he is going to make the 12,” Ryan said.
“It is a huge challenge for Jarryd.
“But if he gets into the squad it is only going to be on form, because he is a blinding rugby player.”
Whether he will be eligible is another question, with former Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency boss Richard Ings saying because the NFL was not WADA compliant, Hayne would have to wait six months before being able to play any other professional sport.
If the Fiji move doesn’t work out, the Roosters reportedly have left space in their salary cap to sign him before the June 30 deadline, something Parramatta clearly doesn’t have the luxury of doing.