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

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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
Pete Carroll Coy About Rugby Star


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