League: Jarryd Hayne Quitting To Play NFL

Parramatta Eels star Jarryd Hayne is quitting the NRL to switch to American football, playing for the NFL in the United States.

Hayne confirmed the move and his immediate withdrawal from Australia’s Four Nations squad after being granted a conditional release from Parramatta, via an open letter to Eels’ fans posted on the club’s website today.

“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,” Hayne said.

“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 two-time Dally M medallist, who had another year to run on his contract with the Eels, told a press conference in Sydney today that he is heading to the US with no guarantees of an NFL deal.

“I don’t have any experience in NFL, I don’t have a contract, I haven’t signed with anyone. I’m giving myself the opportunity to make it. It’s a challenge” Hayne told media.

Following the end of Parramatta’s NRL season, Hayne spent 10 days in the US inspecting NFL and college football facilities in Washington State.

He attended a Seattle Seahawks game and a Washington Huskies college match and underwent testing and training at the university’s athletics centre.

The visit follows on from revelations earlier this year that Hayne had undergone two secret training sessions with Sydney’s University of Technology American Football team in October 2013.

He spent one session training as a wide receiver and the second as a safety, with Gridiron Australian then following up on a request from Hayne to explore opportunities in the US for an open trial with an NFL team, however his commitments with the Kangaroos at last year’s World Cup prevented that from happening.

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Men's Cotton CMY Rosette Pattern Short Sleeve T-ShirtIt is understood the Eels were only notified of Hayne’s decision last night while Australian coach Tim Sheens, who accompanied Hayne to Wellington on a Four Nations promotional trip last week, was stunned upon learning the news today.

“You’re kidding me,” Sheens told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph paper. “That’s news to me. I’m shocked he didn’t say anything.”

The 27-year-old went on to explain he was reluctant to make the decision sooner due to the loyalty he holds for the Parramatta club.

“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.”

Sporting converts – the good and the bad

– Bad –

Michael Jordan

In the fall of 1993, Michael Jordan – often regarded as the greatest player ever to shoot a basketball – shocked the sports world by announcing he was retiring from the NBA. Then he stunned fans again by deciding to pursue his long-held dream of playing pro baseball.

Jordan’s move was such a shock because his athletic prowess was at its peak. His Chicago Bulls had racked up three straight NBA championships and during the 1993 finals he scored 40 or more points in four consecutive games.

Jordan went 0-3 in his professional baseball debut and finished the 1994 minor-league season batting .202 with 114 strikeouts in 436 at-bats for the Birmingham Barons.

After his relatively unsuccessful season playing baseball, Jordan decided to return to the NBA. Jordan issued a press release on March 18, 1995, that stated simply, “I’m back,” and returned to the Chicago Bulls the next day.

Jeff Wilson

Wilson achieved the rare feat of playing for New Zealand in both cricket and rugby during his 13 year professional sporting career.

With 44 tries from 60 tests with the All Blacks, he currently sits as the 9th-highest try scorer in Rugby Union history, however his Black Caps record was not so impressive.

After playing a handful of one day internationals against Australia, the Super 12 rugby competition arrived – which overlapped the cricket season by more than six weeks – forcing him to decide early on which international career to pursue, ending his cricket career.

After his retirement from rugby, Wilson was again selected for the Black Caps to play a series of one day matches against a World XI in January. Soon after Wilson retired from cricket at the end of the 2005 season due to persistent injury.

Wilson’s Black Cap career statistics were not particularly impressive (103 runs at an average of 20.60 and a strike rate of 92 for batting, and 4 wickets at an economy rate of 6.44 runs per over in bowling) and he will forever be known as an All Black great, who could bat and bowl.

– Good –

Brad Thorn

Thorn is the most successful league to rugby convert of all time. The fact he made the switch twice, is mind-scrambling.

His legacy in both codes is enormous and he collected a final trinket this year that gives him a set of medals no one else is ever likely to match.

Drafted to Leinster on a short-term contract this year, he helped them win the Heineken Cup, to add to his Super Rugby title of 2008 and World Cup medal won last year. Between 2008 and 2011 – Thorn was one of, if not the best tight lock in world rugby.

But ask anyone in Brisbane about Thorn and they will go misty-eyed and rate him one of the best ever produced by the Broncos – a side that he helped to two NRL Premiership titles.

Sonny-Bill Williams

Having won an NRL premiership with the Bulldogs in 2004, SBW controversially left his rugby league club halfway through the 2008 season to play rugby union with French club Toulon. Then in 2010 Williams signed with the NZ Rugby Union and won a Rugby World Cup, Bledisloe Cup and a Super 15 title with the Chiefs.

SBW also threw some boxing in for good measure, and has had five wins from his five heavyweight bouts and is currently the New Zealand Professional Boxing Association Heavyweight Champion.

Jason Robinson

Jason Robinson wasn’t as good at Union as he was at League-he was better.

Robinson made the leap from rugby league, where he made his name as a devastating game-breaker, into rugby union in 2000, and it didn’t take him long to make an impact in his new code.

He was no stranger to glory during his career, scoring a try in the final as England lifted the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and helping Sale to the Guinness Premiership title in 2006.

During his rugby league career he had excelled for Wigan as they reigned supreme over the Super League, and represented both Great Britain and England.

Following the 2003 World Cup he briefly captained England while Jonny Wilkinson was out injured, but announced his retirement from international rugby following the 2005 Lions tour to New Zealand, where he won two further Test caps.

He was eventually coaxed out of retirement by England coach Brian Ashton ahead of the 2007 Six Nations, and his added experience helped England to the Rugby World Cup Final in 2007. His playing career ended for a second time following England loss to South Africa in the showpiece event but he returned to the field for a final time to help the Barbarians defeat South Africa at Twickenham in December 2007.



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