I’m right on board Hayne’s US plane
LIKE most rugby league fans when we heard Jarryd Hayne was quitting the NRL, I was disappointed. And after having had some time to digest the news, I'm still disappointed.
But I was also despondent when Brad Thorn, Lote Tuqiri and Wendell Sailor left the Broncos for rugby union, and when Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau walked out and joined the AFL. Sam Burgess and Sonny Bill Williams fleeing for more money in rugby at the end of this past season didn't exactly make me jump for joy either.
But change is a fact of life. People make personal choices that may not particularly fit with the ideals of the rest of us. It's evolution.
Sure the Jarryd Hayne move is a little different - something totally from left field. But gee, isn't it exciting. Good on him I say, and I hope he makes it big time.
Hayne is on no guarantee when he heads to the US to have a crack at the NFL, a code of footy that has never grabbed me. Maybe that's because it takes about 3¼ hours to play a game that contains around 15 minutes of pure action.
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But Jarryd Hayne loves it, and that's why he is following his dream. And as he so powerfully enunciated during his emotional press conference last week, he tells kids to chase their dreams and if he did not live by that now, he wouldn't be honest with himself.
In the past when supreme athletes in one sport have switched to another - Folau and Hunt in particular come to mind - they said it was to challenge themselves, just as Hayne is saying now. But they had a rather sweet carrot dangling alongside their challenge, and in the case of Folau a sweetener reportedly worth $6 million.
Hayne has nothing. Not a contract, not a promise, not a brass razoo. His is a dream, just like the one he had when he joined the Eels as a 13-year-old. But he does have a 'lifetime agreement' with the Eels, so if he returns to the NRL it will be to play with Parramatta.
The unknown, of course, is whether he will make it in the NFL. Is he too old at 26? Is he big enough, strong enough, fast enough? He thinks he is, and that's good enough for me.
And Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks coach where Hayne is rumoured to be heading, thinks Hayne is "an incredible athlete and a great competitor", but concedes he faces "a tremendous challenge".
But so did those who came to Australia on the First Fleet, and the explorers who ventured north, west and south from Botany Bay. Thankfully they, like Jarryd Hayne, had a crack.