… And the world falls in love with our Jarryd Hayne

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My goodness, today I am proud not only to be a Parramatta Eels supporter and an NRL fan, but also to be Australian and it’s all thanks to one man.

Congratulations, Jarryd Hayne.  You are a superstar. I am beyond proud of you.

For those of you who missed the footage today, today was the day where Jarryd Hayne began his NFL pre-season for the San Francisco 49ers against the Houston Texans. And he nailed it.

There has been so much talk about Jarryd Hayne leading up to this moment.

It all started when he left the Eels at the end of last season. When he left the NRL, despite it being a shock, especially to Parramatta supporters, the overwhelming sense I got from most people was a deep sense of respect for what Jarryd was doing. Jarryd was leaving a sport where he was known and adored, where he was one of the brightest stars in the game and where it was safe. He walked away from the game and the money to chase his dream and that dream was to play NFL. There was no guarantee that he would make it, no guarantee that it would be financially lucrative and no guarantee that he would not be home in 6 months with his tail between his legs.

But Jarryd is an athlete and a competitor and took a leap of faith.

In the last 6 months, we have followed his story with interest. People questioned whether he could make it in what is arguably one of the toughest and most competitive games in the world. With places in the squad limited and youngsters vying for a chance to play the game they had been brought up studying, playing and being coached in, many thought it was a long shot. And it probably was.

But in the background, Jarryd kept working and kept training and probably channelled Taylor Swift – you know what she says ‘haters gonna hate’.

Australia and the United States tuned in today to see what the ‘rugby’ star from Australia could do in his opening game and they were not disappointed.

Today, when Jarryd Hayne produced a 53-yard run early in the second quarter which led to a touchdown, social media exploded. I exploded. I was so delighted. The scenes of jubilation at the ground and on social media were overwhelming for me. I am so proud of Jarryd.

This is a player I watched grow up before my very eyes. I remember watching him play for Parramatta in his late teens and thinking ‘this kid is special’. In some way, I feel small ownership in his success and am so proud that he was once mine and that now the rest of the world gets to see how talented he is.

The fight is not over yet – despite an impressive start, Jarryd is fighting for his spot in a 53 man roster, so he has a lot of work to do.

But today, I am so proud of him. What a remarkable young man you are Jarryd. I can’t wait for the rest of the world to fall in love with you. Australia is behind you and we are cheering for you. 

But no matter how brightly your star shines in the next couple of years, you’ll always be that 18 year old in the blue and gold to me.

Love,

Ladies who League xxx