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Dublin: 1°C Friday 22 January 2021

Code-hopping Hayne gives up NFL to join Fiji's push for Olympic gold

A timely boost for the Fijians after they lost the final of the Paris 7s to Samoa.

Hayne runs a return against the Steelers last September.
Hayne runs a return against the Steelers last September.
Image: Don Wright

FORMER AUSTRALIAN RUGBY league star Jarryd Hayne has given up on his dream of forging a career in American football in order to pursue a spot on Fiji’s Olympic rugby Sevens squad.

Hayne generated intense interest last year after forcing his way onto the San Francisco 49ers roster after walking away from a lucrative NRL career in his native Australia.

But the 28-year-old enjoyed only flashes of success during a difficult first season where his appearances were limited.

In a statement released through the 49ers today, Hayne revealed he had been approached by Fiji Sevens officials with a view to playing in this summer’s Olympic Games, where rugby will make a return after a 92-year absence.

“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,” said Hayne, whose father is Fijian.

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.”

Hayne said he was proud of the fact that he had been able to transition from rugby league to the NFL, where he was used as a running back and special teams kick returner.

“The past 12 months with the San Francisco 49ers have been absolutely incredible. I could not have predicted how far I have come as an NFL player,” Hayne said.

Ravens 49ers Football Source: Jeff Chiu

“To not only be able to play in a game but also say that I started a game in the NFL is something that I will remember for a lifetime,” the former Parramatta Eels star said.

The 49ers said Hayne was leaving with their blessing:

“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,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement.

“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.”

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