Jarryd Hayne is back home. Back to the Eels where he belongs.
After an unhappy stint with the Gold Coast Titans via NFL and 7’s Rugby, he is back. Eels fans don’t rejoice just yet. He may be back at the Eels in body but has he turned up mentally.
To me, the excited Jarryd Hayne that left the Eels in 2014 to challenge himself and follow his dream of playing NFL in America has never come back. His return to rugby league with Gold Coast Titans did not live up to anyone’s expectations. Many suggested it was due to his feud with coach Neil Henry.
Jarryd has not looked happy bar his “This is my house!” field goal at Campbelltown in late 2016. He made State of Origin in 2017 based on his reputation alone. Yet from an outsider, even Origin didn’t spark him.
So, what is behind his apparent unhappiness and lack of enthusiasm? Something Hayne said in his press conference announcing his move to NFL was that he had achieved everything he wanted to achieve in NRL. If you dissect that, you would note that he had never won a Premiership but he was content to leave without a Premiership ring. Hayne was bored with rugby league and as with anyone who has worked in a job for a few years, you can get bored. You look for other challenges.
For Hayne, that was NFL. He wanted something that would regenerate him mentally and physically. What he was able to achieve in NFL was nothing short of miraculous. The chances of making an NFL squad of 53 from outside of the College system is extremely low. Think about this, 3000 young men from the College system nominate themselves for the NFL draft each year. Of those, only about 220 are drafted and of those drafted only half make it onto the 53 man rosters. So for Jarryd to make the roster of an NFL team in a game he had never played and get actual game time is just phenomenal.
Once Hayne reached his goal of making the roster, I think it started to dawn on him he would be at best a back up running back or special teams player. Meaning little or no game time. With a change of Head Coach of the 49ers at the end of his first season, he would have to reprove himself to justify his place on the roster for the next season.
The reward to be a bit player was not enough for Jarryd and the NFL dream was over. He could have easily walked back into rugby league at that juncture for huge money but he chose to follow another dream. Winning an Olympic Gold Medal in Rugby Union. That to me was a sign he had little desire to play rugby league, he was still bored with it.
When his attempt failed to break into an already established Fiji 7’s team so close to the Olympic Games, he had a choice big money French Rugby or a return to Australia. With a new baby to think of he came back home. Australian Rugby Union was a consideration but with no big money offers on the table and with Parramatta going through off-field scandals, the Gold Coast Titans was surprisingly announced as his new home.
Again a press conference gave an insight into Hayne’s mind when bizarrely he talked more about Parramatta, than his new employers. He gave the impression if he couldn’t play for the Eels, he’d take the best money on offer until he could get back to his beloved Eels sometime in the foreseeable future.
His time on the Gold Coast was not enjoyable, where he struggled with form. His relationship with coach Neil Henry became the centre of a media circus of “it’s him or me” ultimatum of which he eventually won.
Now back with Eels after being granted a release from the Titans who were happy to see the back of him, it appears Hayne is still bored with rugby league. Brad Arthur now has the job to get Hayne motivated. If that is even possible.
The only person capable of that is Hayne himself.
Jarryd Hayne is a unique person and athlete. He has been a superstar rugby league player and a pioneer in his NFL endeavours.
He now needs to be honest with himself and Parramatta fans. Either be a rugby league player or walk away. There would be no shame in walking away, in fact, it would be respected.
Will we see the return of the Hayne Plane? Or have his wings been clipped for good?