Parramatta Eels star Jarryd Hayne has decided to quit Rugby League in order to pursue a career in the National Football League.
Hayne has left the Australian national squad which was gearing up for the Four Nations and will now head to the US for trails towards building a career in the NFL.
Hayne released a statement about his future endeavours via Eels website and it read:
“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."
He continued: "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.”
Route to the NFL
One potential future destination for the former Rugby League star is the current Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
Hayne recently toured the franchises training complex whilst visiting America, however his current training base will remain in Los Angeles.
With most aspiring football stars, Hayne's route will be through the practice squad, he will attempt to latch on to an organisation and eventually prove that he has the capabilities to make it in the NFL.
Practice squads are a common destination for rookies and players who are just learning their trade in the top ranks, Lawrence Okoye, a former Olympic discus thrower for the UK, is currently on the San Francisco 49ers practice squad.
The decision is quite risky in monetary terms for Hayne, recognised as big earner in the NRL, the early contracts possible in the NFL would be substantially lower than his current wage.
Hayne said: "I am leaving as the game’s highest paid player because I want to chase my dream, I’m heading over there as a blank canvas, it is crazy exciting. I am going making this decision now because I want to give it every chance, I won’t play this year because the [NFL] season is already six games old. I am aiming at next year and I’m starting preparations now.”
Hayne acknowledged how difficult a decision it was for him to leave the Eels, as he has been a part of the team since he was a teenager.
Hayne will not be the first british player to attempt to carve out a career in the NFL, but most cases are for kickers and punters. Hayne has suggested he fancies himself as a kick or punt returner which hold similarities to the full back position in rugby
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