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'I'm done': World's greatest rugby player quits sport to chase NFL dream

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'I'm done': World's greatest rugby player quits sport to chase NFL dream
PARRAMATTA, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 15: Jarryd Hayne speaks to media during a press conference to announce he is quitting the NRL to pursue NFL in America on October 15, 2014 in Parramatta, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
#12thman life 👌
PARRAMATTA, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 15: Jarryd Hayne speaks to media during a press conference to announce he is quitting the NRL to pursue NFL in America on October 15, 2014 in Parramatta, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
PARRAMATTA, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 15: Jarryd Hayne becomes emotional as he speaks to media during a press conference to announce he is quitting the NRL to pursue NFL in America on October 15, 2014 in Parramatta, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
PARRAMATTA, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 15: Jarryd Hayne speaks looks on during a press conference to announce he is quitting the NRL to pursue NFL in America on October 15, 2014 in Parramatta, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
PARRAMATTA, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 15: Jarryd Hayne speaks to media during a press conference to announce he is quitting the NRL to pursue NFL in America on October 15, 2014 in Parramatta, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
Great experience checking out #Vmac #facility home of the @Seahawks thanks to mark tamar for the tour. #worldchamps #gohawks bobby Wagner n @dangerusswilson 👌
London, UK. 23rd Nov, 2013. Australia's Jarryd Hayne [4] on a run during the Rugby League World Cup Semi Final between Australia and Fiji from Wembley Stadium. © Action Plus Sports/Alamy Live News
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 18: Jarryd Hayne of the Eels is tackled during the round 19 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Pirtek Stadium on July 18, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 06: Jarryd Hayne of the Eels gestures towards referee, Ashley Klein during the round 26 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Parramatta Eels at GIO Stadium on September 6, 2014 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Words don't do it justice #BucketList #BeastMode @ray_roumanous @theparraeels @magoou4
NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 30: Jarryd Hayne of the Eels in action during the round 25 NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Parramatta Eels at Hunter Stadium on August 30, 2014 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 15: Jarryd Hayne of the Eels fends away Moses Mbye of the Eels during the round 23 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Canterbury Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on August 15, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
DARWIN, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 09: Jarryd Hayne of the Eels scores his second try during the round 22 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Canberra Raiders at TIO Stadium on August 9, 2014 in Darwin, Australia. (Photo by Renee McKay/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 10: Jarryd Hayne celebrates with fans during the NSW Blues State of Origin series victory celebrations at Sydney Opera House on July 10, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 09: Jarryd Hayne of the Blues attempts to break away from the defence during game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on July 9, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 10: Jarryd Hayne celebrates with fans during the NSW Blues State of Origin series victory celebrations at Sydney Opera House on July 10, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 09: Jarryd Hayne and Paul Gallen of the Blues celebrate a series win after game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on July 9, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
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By RYAN GORMAN

The world's greatest rugby player has quit the sport to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL.

Jarryd Hayne stunned Australia when he retired from the National Rugby League's Parramatta Eels and announced plans to immediately move to the U.S. and begin training to become a football player.

"I can be as good as they are," Hayne told friends when he returned from a trip to the U.S. earlier this year, according to Sydney Morning Herald.

The footballer visited the facilities of both the Seattle Seahawks and the University of Washington while in the country.

The 26-year-old left behind a championship team, legions of fans and millions of dollars as the NRL's highest paid player.

Hayne hasn't set a timetable for coming to the U.S., but Thursday told the "Dan Patrick Show" that "we're trying to get over there as soon as possible.

"For me, it's about getting over there, doing a bit of my own training for a bit and then seeing what happens."

He has been mulling over the move for about two years, he told Patrick. A friend introduced him to the game while Down Under in 2010, and later that year he met former Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant.

Hayne announced his "retirement" in an emotional press conference Wednesday in Sydney.

"I'm done," he told a shocked nation about his rugby career. "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.

"I'm so 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."

Hayne appeared knowledgeable about the NFL during his interview with Patrick. He knew several players.

"I'll want to be avoiding him," he said of Houston Texas star defensive end J.J. Watt.

The 6-foot-2, 220 pound bulldozer even has three fantasy football teams, he said.

Speculation puts the rugby legend on a team run by an outside-the-box type of coach, like the Seahawks' Pete Carroll or Bill Belichick, of the New England Patriots.

He profiles best as a running back and compares favorably to the Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch, who is 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds.

No coach has publicly lobbied to sign Hayne, but Carroll did acknowledge him Wednesday while talking to the media.

"He's an incredible athlete and a great competitor which is the kind of stuff we like," said Carroll.

"I don't think I'm able to talk about him as far as I know. We don't want to mess it up."

Neither does Hayne.

Pete Carroll Coy About Rugby Star
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