He was the best player in the world.
The Dally M Medallist, State of Origin player of the series, World Cup champion and Holden Kangaroos player’s player.
At season’s end, he gives it all up. He wants to chase his dream of playing American Football in the States.
So he does, and stuns the world one of the most impressive NFL pre-seasons in recent memory. What follows is an ordinary, up and down season, but finishes it with a vow to keep chasing it next season.
Last Sunday though, Jarryd Hayne announced his immediate retirement from American Football to – dare I say it – “chase his dream” of playing Rugby Sevens at this year’s Olympics in Rio.
Now, beloved readers, I will admit, I wasn’t happy when the news broke.
All this talk about chasing dreams and standing up in the face of adversity, testing your limits and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
It’s like he’s taking us for a ride.
But there more I think about it, dear readers, the more it makes sense.
Rugby has not been a part of the Olympics in any shape or form for over 90 years. But now, finally, it has returned in its Sevens format.
Right now, Jarryd is 28. Jarryd has an opportunity.
Had he chosen to persist with his initial quest and remained in the NFL to just wait until the next one, he would be 32 when the next Olympic Games came around.
Someone’s come up to Jarryd Hayne and said, “Jarryd, have you ever dreamed of playing in the Olympics? Well it’s not impossible anymore. You’ve got one chance – and it has to be now.”
So leaving for a year to try and accomplish something that wasn’t even a possibility for the last 90 years – an Olympic Gold Medal in Rugby – isn’t too bad an idea.
Following this stint with Fiji, I personally would love to see him return to the NFL to persist and keep going, but that’s beside the point.
We know what kind of person Jarryd is. In 20 years when he’s long-retired, nearing his 50s and looking back on his career, does he want to look back and think, “Remember when you were 28 and got offered to play Sevens in the Olympics and said ‘no’?”
I don’t think he’d want that, and frankly, neither would we.
He’s facing an uphill battle to succeed and prove his doubters wrong, but then again, we’ve heard that before somewhere.
So here we go again. Godspeed, Haynesy. We’re with you all the way.