Former rugby league superstar Jarryd Hayne has announced his shock retirement from the NFL to play rugby for Fiji in the upcoming Olympics.
The 28-year-old survived the most recent cut to the squad however couldn’t pass on the opportunity to play at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro this year.
“I am retiring from the NFL because the Fiji Rugby Sevens team reached out to me about the opportunity to join the team for the upcoming Olympics, and I simply could not pass that chance up. The Olympics has been something I have admired since I was a little boy, and it is an opportunity I feel very similar to me joining the NFL.”
While Hayne had a promising pre-season with the San Francisco 49ers, he could never maintain his position as running back due to constant fumbles and media pressure on then head coach Jim Tomsula.
He averaged less than five yards on punt returns and just over three yards in offensive sets, making him one of the least efficient players in the game.
While the 49ers had an abysmal season overall, General Manager Trent Baalke spoke to the professionalism and etiquette Hayne exemplified.
“We would like to thank Jarryd for his contributions to the San Francisco 49ers organization and our community over the last year,
“Jarryd is a tremendous example of what can happen when you commit to a goal and do everything in your power to make it a reality. He earned the right to wear a 49ers uniform and compete alongside the best in the game.
“We fully support Jarryd’s decision to pursue another dream – representing the Fiji Rugby Sevens team in this summer’s Olympic games. We look forward to watching him in Rio and wish him continued success.”
Since the story has broken, recent reports have suggested that Hayne won’t even be eligible for the Olympics due to strict anti-doping laws.
Former ASADA boss Richard Ings noted that World Rugby requires players to be in a registered testing pool for six months to be eligible to compete at sanctioned competitions.
“If Jarryd Hayne had been playing in WADA compliant sport he would have grounds to reduce the 6 months,” Ings tweeted on Monday morning.
“But NFL is PED badlands. No chance.”
He later tweeted: “The six-month return to competition rule is standard across most sports for athletes returning to international competition. And necessary.”
“The rule equally applies to reinstatement or to new players. Sensibly it must or any NFL player could bulk up and play.”