For months now, we've been hearing whispers about Jarryd Hayne, the 49ers' newest recruit. Only it hasn't been about his supreme athletic form or his speed. Hayne, if you haven't heard, isn't from around these parts. Rather, the 6-foot-2 running back hails from Australia, and forged a successful career playing rugby league. Then, he decided to make a leap across continents and sports.
NFL fans can now finally get a glimpse into what Australia, England and New Zealand have known all along: Hayne is a hardworking, passionate athlete who deserves your full attention.
1. A near-death experience turned his life around.
Hayne wasn't always Australia's golden boy. In 2008 he lived a (self-described) "rockstar" lifestyle in Sydney. That party lifestyle almost resulted in him being shot in a nightclub.
"What if it happens next time and it does hit me? You don't get a second chance with bullets."
Hayne's brush with the potentially fatal incident made him realize it was time to refocus his life. He said he talked with his mom following the shooting: "I made sure I was really calm and pretended like I wasn't worried and I wasn't scared, but really I was petrified. She didn't have to tell me anything I don't know. I know I have to pull my head in.'' From there, his career took off.
2. His preseason NFL success isn't beginner's luck.
While it's easy to assume Hayne won't have the legs to go an entire NFL season without being cut, Hayne has already endured tough times in his career that may have prepared him for the grind of American football.
In 2008, his team, the Parramatta Eels, were one of the worst in the league. The following year, in 2009, the Eels were still -- surprise, surprise -- awful. That is, until Hayne barreled through with an astonishing string of seven Man of the Match performances. As a result, Hayne was awarded Fullback of the Year. Additionally, he was crowned the best and fairest player, winning the Dally M Medal.
Hayne tied for the medal again in 2014 after another stellar season.
3. Down under they call him the "Hayne Train/Plane."
Dubbed the Hayne Train (or plane), after his bulldozer runs and try celebrations, the nickname could translate over to the NFL. It's tough to summarize just how freakishly talented Hayne is -- for now here is some context. Otherwise, and spot his signature celebratory move below.
4. Like father, like son.
Hayne was born in the south-western suburbs of Sydney, Australia. His father was Fijian and played professional rugby. Both Hayne and his father have represented the Fijian National Rugby League team.
5. He drew the attention of speed demon, Usain Bolt.
After Hayne raced against some of the best Australian football players (at an event hosted by Usain Bolt, who was watching from the side), he caught Bolt's attention.
6. Making the decision to leave Australia was emotionally taxing.
On the day Hayne announced he was going to leave the National Rugby League, and his friends and family, Hayne was an emotional mess.
That -- right there -- is why you should keep tabs on Hayne. He's a man wearing his heart on his sleeve, taking an unorthodox path to achieve his dreams.
Ultimately, what direction Hayne's NFL journey takes will be up to him. And it's already looking like he's up for the challenge. As he wrote on Instagram in the photo below:
"I'm old n wise enough to not get carried away with 1 game. I've also learned to embrace every moment of life n the experiences that come my way."
2 Corinthians 5:7 for we live by faith and not by sight. We have Lift off in Houstan! First taste of the NFL and it couldn't of gone any better. Excited just to be given the opportunity at the @49ers I'm old n wise enough to not get carried away with 1 game. I've also learned to embrace every moment of life n the experiences that come my way. It's so overwhelming the support I've received back in the Southern Hemisphere from Australia to Fiji to the pacific islands, NZ n so on. Thank you :) #GIG #TheBegging
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