Jarryd Hayne has sensationally quit the NRL to pursue a career in the NFL.
Without a club or contract to go to, Hayne has taken self belief to the edge of the ledge but you have to admire his willingness to give it a go and he has done it a way that does not reflect badly upon himself or the Eels. SBW could learn a thing or two from Hayne in this regard.
Hayne has recently been on a study tour of the Seattle Seahawks facilities and the reigning join Dally M medal winner came away more than impressed by what he saw.
There are many questions to be answered during Hayne’s journey not just for himself, but for the fans and more importantly, the NRL. Is Hayne too old to be making the leap to a sport he has never played and a sport that is very technical in nature? What will the NRL do to fill the void left by Hayne’s departure and what will they do if Hayne is successful?
Will more players follow in Hayne’s footsteps? Greg Inglis immediately springs to mind and this doesn’t seem to be about the money. Hayne has gone without a contract in place with any team in the NFL and he has walked away from a $1 million+ contract per year with the Eels. How do you stop someone from going in this instance?
How will Dave Smith and the NRL react to this news? What are they doing to counter situations like this?
What does this do to the short term prospects of the Eels? They were a club on the up but will now surely be wooden spoon favourites. This is a setback of monumental proportions.
NSW won their first Origin series in years on the back of Hayne’s brilliance, so replacing him will be no easy task and Laurie Daley must surely be kicking his dog, any dog for that matter at this news.
Hayne has been given a conditional release by the Eels on the proviso that if he ever returns to Rugby League, it will be with the Eels. However, with a large part of their salary cap now available, do the Eels spend it on someone like Josh Hoffman or Brett Stewart and simply get on with life in the hope that Hayne may one day return?
There is no doubt Hayne just completed one of the finest seasons by an individual player and his accolade as the joint best player in the NRL is thoroughly deserved. Will his skills in the NRL translate to success in the NFL? The Rugby League playing fraternity certainly believe so with many players tweeting their support for Hayne but also their disappointment that the games best won’t be returning in 2015.
Hayne’s size and speed suggest he could make the transition to be a wide receiver in the NFL but this will be no easy task and the challenge that lay ahead for Hayne looks to be something he is well aware of.
Many college athletes train their whole lives to make it to the NFL and never succeed so the competition will be fierce just to get a look in. Had there been a players strike, Hayne would probably still face serious competition to get a roster spot but you have to admire a man who is chasing his dreams at the cost of financial security, as he is in the prime of his playing career yet a high paying salary is anything but guaranteed.
If Hayne succeeds, it will be a great advertisement for the game but at what cost? Could Rugby League become a nursery for up and coming elite athletes to springboard into the bright lights of professional sport in the U.S.? Quite possibly and with the influx of Polynesian players who are bigger than the players of a generation ago, Rugby League could be molding the elite athletes of tomorrow at great expense to the game with little financial return.
Ultimately, Jarryd Hayne has thrown the dice on his playing career and I sincerely hope they roll his way and the spoils of his gamble pay off! Just not the Seahawks…