Tuesday 24 October 2017 / 04:08 AM

Jarryd Hayne leaves NRL for NFL dream

Woah, where did this come from?

Jarryd Hayne is heading to the United States to pursue a dream of playing in the NFL.

A week ago, the Parramatta superstar was talking about how he thought Greg Inglis would snag the Kangaroos’ fullback spot in front of him.

“Last year, playing right centre, I probably shot myself in the foot there,” Hayne told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“There’s no depth on the right side.

“With Dylan Walker and Michael Jennings, they’re all left-side centres. So if you use your common sense there’s a bit of depth there.”

He is either an exceptional liar or he literally just made the decision.

I believe the latter. It seems that Hayne had been mulling over this decision for a while and finally bit the bullet.

Hayne recently went on a trip to the US for a NFL tour of the Seattle Seahawks’ set-up to see how everything is run over there.

He told the media at his press conference that this was not the decisive factor.

“It wasn’t in Seattle that I changed my mind. It was already set. I think the courage to do it was the biggest thing,” Hayne said.

It is a massive call to make and one that seems genuine. He doesn’t have a contract in the NFL yet, so it’s not about money. It’s purely about realising a dream.

The Parramatta Eels granted the two-time Dally M Medal-winner a conditional release with a year to run on his contract.

The Eels, agreeing to this, realise this is big for Hayne, and this in itself shows the strong bond between Hayne and the club. This is something that Hayne further outlines in his letter to Parramatta fans.

“It hasn’t been an easy decision for me to leave the Eels, the club’s been my home and family since I was 13, and I’ve always been proud to pull on the Blue and Gold jersey with my teammates,” Hayne’s statement read.

For the immediate future, it means he is out of Australia’s Four Nations campaign.

Hayne was set to be named at right centre for the Kangaroos and now leaves a hole to be filled by one of four candidates.

Hayne was thought to be the front-runner for the right centre position and it was thought that Jennings would take the left centre berth in front of Dylan Walker.

Tim Sheens now has to decide whether to shift Walker to the right or debut Sione Mata’utia as the youngest Kangaroo ever, with Hayne’s replacement in the squad reported to be Penrith fullback Matt Moylan.

 

The Kangaroos’ minor headache is nothing compared to the loss the Eels will endure.

The Eels lose arguably the best player in the game after being named joint winner of the Dally M Medal this year alongside Jonathon Thurston.

Hayne is a genuine game-breaker, he was co-captain with Tim Mannah this year, and he has the ability to win games single-handedly. He gave Parramatta a chance to play finals footy this year following successive wooden spoons.

Parramatta will be resigned to not being able to replace Hayne and just getting the next best thing.

They will have enough money to pick up a world-class fullback and will likely target unwanted Josh Hoffman and disgruntled Brett Stewart to fill the role.

There can be a silver lining to come from this.

It has been said that the Parramatta Eels can tend to rely on Jarryd Hayne a little too much at times. With Hayne gone, now the rest of the team are going to have to come to the party at those crunch moments.

The Eels’ players have a chance to replicate Andrew Fifita’s rich vein of form in 2013, who rose to stardom during Paul Gallen’s injury run, leading to representative honours.

In the end it could lead to Parramatta playing more as a team and getting the most out of each other.

The NRL, as a whole, is going to miss Hayne. Not only for his on-field ability but for his pull off it.

Hayne is a superstar who puts bums on seats. Kids have Hayne on the backs of their jerseys and all do the plane after they score a try.

He brings passion to the jersey, whether it be for Parramatta, New South Wales or Australia.

Hayne will be sorely missed by the whole rugby league community.

At the same time, I think that everyone will wish him well and hopes he gets a contract and kills it in the NFL.

Jarryd Hayne’s letter to the Parramatta Eels

“Dear Blue and Gold Army,

 

For the past 24 months I’ve been thinking about having a crack in the NFL, and over the last 12 months I’ve been seriously considering it.

 

Today I can officially announce that I will be heading to the United States to pursue an opportunity to play American Football. 

 

I will be withdrawing from the Kangaroos Four Nations side immediately, and accepting a conditional release from the Eels to make the move overseas.

 

The reason I didn’t make this decision any earlier was because of the part I played in getting Brad to the club and the way we finished the season. I felt I owed the Club one more year and I gave it everything I could.

 

It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, and at my age, this is my one and only chance at having a crack at playing there.

 

I’m excited about the potential opportunities that lie ahead. I’ve known the deadline has been looming for me to make this call, and I believe the right time is now.

 

I’m so passionate about the challenge that lies ahead for me, not only as an athlete but more so as a person. It’s the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life.  I’m leaving my teammates, friends, and most importantly my family; but for me to grow as an athlete and a person I feel this is the right step to take.

 

It hasn’t been an easy decision for me to leave the Eels, the club’s been my home and family since I was 13, and I’ve always been proud to pull on the Blue and Gold jersey with my teammates.

 

The hardest thing about leaving the club is there’s stability for the first time in a long time, but I know where my heart lies and I’m following that.

 

I’m always telling people to chase their dreams and follow their hearts, if I don’t live by that I’m not being honest with myself.

 

I’m leaving knowing that I have signed a ‘lifetime agreement’ with the Eels, so if I return to the NRL, it will be to Parramatta. 

 

I’m grateful to all of you for the support you’ve shown me at this club, thank you.”

 

(Parramatta Eels website)

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Ben Jaffrey

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