Jarryd Hayne has sensationally walked out on rugby league today to pursue a career in the National Football League in America. He has left the game with one year left on his Parramatta contract.
The twenty-six year old was just last month announced joint-winner of the Dally M Player of the Year award along side North Queensland’s Johnathan Thurston. His announcement comes only a day after he was selected in Australia’s side for the upcoming Four Nations Tournament. Hayne’s place now to be taken by Penrith’s rising star Matt Moylan.
“I feel like I’ve done everything in the game. What more is there to achieve other than a premiership? There’s goals, but you gotta enjoy the journey moreso. I feel that the journey of going over there and having a crack at the NFL is far greater than anything here,” he said.
You can’t stop someone like Hayne from taking a risk in pursuit of a career change. He joins a line of players that include Wallaby Israel Folau, All Black Sonny Bill Williams and Karmichael Hunt to switch codes. Sam Burgess starts his career in English rugby very soon. And he won’t be the last.
In the National Rugby League statement issued this afternoon, CEO David Smith says he would have been happy to exercise his powers to keep Hayne in the game.
The question now fans are asking is whether the administration is doing enough to keep the top line players in our game.
If Hayne is successful at making the National Football League in America it would be a big pay day in one of the richest competitions on the planet. League commentator Andrew Voss describing his chances of making it as “100/1”. There is absolutely no way that rugby league can compete with that type of money.
For those switching codes to the AFL or rugby union there’s a much better chance of trying to retain players. In a monetary sense the current National Rugby League administration are prepared to use their discretion in providing concessions.
This can only be good for the game if these type of players are spread between clubs. For example, a struggling club like Canberra could do with the services of Sonny Bill Williams to become more competitive and increase interest in the declining rugby league market in the Nations Capital.
While rugby league has a good product at club and state level, it falls flat when it comes to the international game. SBW and Burgess’ decision to leave the game at the end of the 2014 season was based on the upcoming Rugby World Cup to be hosted in England next year.
In a positive sign, rugby league is spreading into Europe off the back of a moderately successful World Cup last year. But this will take time with the right administration running the game at a global level.
Just ask South Sydney CEO Shane Richardson about the state of the International game and it gets him fired up like it did in a recent interview with UK based The Observer.
“I know from the years I’ve spent in the game, and the contacts I’ve made in business, and the places I’ve been around the world, that there’s a potential to do so much more. Why do players like Sam Burgess think they have to go to rugby union to play on a global stage? It’s time we did something about it.”
The game will go on and a future star will be born. Maybe Hayne’s replacement in Matt Moylan is an omen.
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