Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, it’s likely you will have heard of former NRL star Jarryd Hayne attempting to break into the NFL.
Hayne was immediately snapped up by the San Francisco 49ers where he has been enjoying significant coverage in the media after a standout debut was followed up by another impressive performance in his second game for the franchise.
There’s no doubting that Hayne should be applauded for the move – he’s one of the first to move from rugby to gridiron, and gave up the guaranteed money on offer in the NRL to chase an opportunity of playing in the NFL with no guarantees he would even be offered a place on a team’s roster.
So far though the gamble has paid off with Hayne being widely applauded by many pundits who feel he has done more than enough to earn a spot on the 49ers roster. There’s also no doubting that Hayne’s move will have helped improve rugby’s popularity in the US by showing the talent available in the sport.
However, could the knock on effects of Hayne’s move actually have a negative impact on the wider rugby community? Whilst it would be great for him to generate more attention in the hugely lucrative US market, the extra interest in the sport could bring about several unintended consequences.
The most concerning of which is that if Hayne does break into the 49ers final roster, and makes a splash in the NFL, are teams going to want to start looking at trying to lure over other potential stars given the physical traits rugby and football players share.
What’s to stop teams looking at players like Julian Savea as the next star running back, or Israel Folau as a wide receiver? There’s even the possibility of taking a closer look at players like Leigh Halfpenny as a kicker or someone with the physical prowess of Uini Atonio for the defensive line!
Now there are obviously no guarantees Hayne will even succeed, or that if he does become a star that NFL teams will pay any more attention to rugby, but it’s only going to take one or two making the move before the rest follow.
Given the huge salaries on offer in the hugely lucrative league in addition to the accompanying endorsement deals, it’s easy to see how even the most ardent of rugby players could be tempted to try their look in the US.
What do you make of Hayne’s move?