Dyldam Parramatta Eels fullback Jarryd Hayne has today advised Chairman Steve Sharp, CEO Scott Seward, Head Coach Brad Arthur and his teammates that he will pursue a long-held dream of playing NFL in the United States.
The club has accepted Jarryd’s decision and has granted him a conditional release.
Hayne, an Eels junior and dual Dally M winner, has played 176 first grade games exclusively in Blue and Gold, as well as creating an impressive record representing his state and his country.
Jarryd will withdraw from the Australian Kangaroos Four Nations tour and move to the USA immediately.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, and at my age, this is my one and only chance at having a crack at playing there,” Hayne said.
“For the past 24 months I’ve been thinking about having a crack in the NFL and the last 12 months I’ve been seriously considering it.
“The reason I didn’t make this decision last year was because of the part I played in getting Brad to the club and the way we finished the season. I felt I owed the club one more year and I gave it everything I could,” Hayne said.
“I’m excited about the potential opportunities that lie ahead, and I’ve known the deadline has been looming for me to make this call, and I believe the right time is now,” he said.
“I’m passionate about the challenge that lies ahead for me not only as an athlete but more so as a person. It’s the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life. I’m leaving my teammates, friends, and most importantly, my family, but for me to grow as an athlete and a person I feel this is the right step to take.
Hayne has signed a ‘lifetime agreement’ with the Eels, so if he chooses to return to the NRL, he will come back to Parramatta without question.
“It hasn’t been an easy decision for me to leave the Eels; the club’s been my home and family since I was 13, and I’ve always been proud to pull on the Blue and Gold jersey with my teammates,” Hayne said.
“The hardest thing about leaving the club is there’s stability for the first time in a long time, and this is definitely thanks to Steve Sharp and his Board, as well as Scott and Brad’s leadership – but I know where my heart lies and I’m following that,” he said.
“I’m always telling people to chase their dreams and follow their hearts, if I don’t live by that I’m not being honest with myself.”
While both Scott Seward and Steve Sharp are incredibly disappointed, they wish him the best in pursuing his dream.
“Jarryd has done a lot for the Eels over the years and I want to thank him for his efforts as a player and captain of our Club,” CEO Scott Seward said.
“It’s not only the Eels who have lost a special player today, but also rugby league - but Jarryd has been, and will continue to be, part of our Eels family.”
“On behalf of the Board and Eels Members, I wish Jarryd the very best of luck in chasing his NFL dream,” Chairman Steve Sharp said.
“It’s going to be an incredibly tough challenge for him and for someone at the pinnacle of a sport like rugby league, to start from the bottom in another is very brave.”
“Our door is always open for Jarryd to return.”
At this point Jarryd does not have a contract with any NFL Club and is hoping to be added to an NFL practice squad.