The Jarryd Hayne story – a brave beginning

He was the LeBron James, Peyton Manning, Cristiano Ronaldo and Usain Bolt of Rugby League, but has taken a punt and left the sport in a brave and admirable decision to try break it through in the NFL.

Jarryd Hayne, a two-time Dally M winner, has decided to turn down a lucrative NRL contract, which would have made him the highest paid player in the sport to chase a dream in the United States. Despite this admirable decision, Hayne has received mixed reviews.

Jarryd Hayne in Rugby League action. Photo (CC) published under Creative Commons licence. Some rights reserved.

Jarryd Hayne in Rugby League action. Photo (CC) published under Creative Commons licence. Some rights reserved.

Robert Craddock, of the Courier Mail wrote, “Hayne must be applauded for his boldness but his prospects of success will start out as tiny and could go up in flames for all sorts of quirky reasons”. Craddock outlined the giant risk that Hayne, who he proclaimed as the Prince of Parramatta, was taking. But, Craddock also outlined the upside – if Hayne succeeds he will become one of the greatest sporting stories of all time.

It is not new that a star athlete has switched sports. Michael Jordan did just that in 1993 when he said he lost a desire to play basketball and tried to give baseball a go. His dream was short lived, returning to the NBA court in no less than two years. The rest you may ask? Well that is history. Unlike Jordan though, Hayne is not expected to return to grace the rugby field.

Hayne, 26, will start from the bottom of the NFL pool after being the top athlete in the NRL. Linked to the Seattle Seahawks, coach Pete Carroll spoke admirably about the stars decision to quit the sport and attempt to join the spectacle of all American sports. “[He’s an] incredible athlete and great competitor,” said Carroll. However, it is what occurred moments later that Hayne should feel worried about. Seahawks communications head Dave Pearson uttered the words, “he doesn’t even know who the guy is”. In other terms, this is not good news if true.

Greig Jonhston of The New Daily, said Hayne’s decision was “edifying” in a world “ruled by money and fear”. His decision to onlookers is brave, but to many it could be viewed as stupid. Unfortunately if the Hayne experiment fails, he will be to loss to sport lovers across the globe. In what Guardian writer Aaron Timms explains as “Rugby league’s loss may be nobody’s gain”.

When it is all done and dusted, the rugby league world would look back at his decision as as brave but at their loss. While the NFL world will see success as more of a reason to poach rugby league players or Australian athletes, but if it fails – then what luck is it for everyone else to gain a trial if one of the best in the business doesn’t achieve his dream.

I’ll leave you with a piece of optimism, from the one and only, Coach Taylor of Friday Night Lights – “I said you need to strive to be better than everyone else. I didn’t say you needed to be better than everyone else. But you gotta try. That’s what character is: It’s in the try”.

Originally published on previous blog.