Now no longer classed as a ‘rookie’, ex-NRL megastar and now a second-year Gridiron player, Jarryd Hayne has returned to work for the San Francisco 49ers.
Jarryd Hayne certainly had his ‘highlight reel’ moments from his first season as an American Football rookie, as this YouTube video shows, where the translation of his Rugby League skills was evident for all observers to see.
Those skills, at times in the pre-season, wowed the watching American audience as the ‘Hayne Plane’ taxied, powered up and then finally took off. The step to make defenders miss was plain for all to see, the change of direction leaving the defender floundering. An eye for a gap ever-more important as Hayne looks to probe the gaps created by the offensive line in front of him. Hayne’s open-field running was a joy to behold, fluid and able to power through the gears almost effortlessly.
Of course he needs to still learn the basics, the technical stuff such as the playbook and hand placements when blocking etc, that’s something that will come with time and exposure to what is still an alien game to him.
Still, Hayne has turned up for a crack at earning a place on the 49ers’ 53-man roster for regular season 2016, joining a group of 70 players all aiming for the same thing. One thing that he will bring, according to his coaches, is an upgraded version of what was there last season. The significant improvements that he has shown with his first NFL season have allowed his Australia-based coaches to work on other areas, notably power and acceleration – key components of the running back position where he is hoping to make a name for himself.
One of his coaches, Hayden Knowles of the NRL’s Sydney Roosters, said that the recent gains made by Hayne “have been eye-catching” and will be something that will be easily noticed by his teammates and coaches. Anecdotally, Knowles tells of a work out with Rugby League legend Andrew Johns where the legendary halfback was astonished at what Hayne brought to the table.
Knowles said:“Andrew just turned to me and said, ‘Holy s**t, how powerful is he?’ His (Hayne’s) genetic make-up is all about being powerful and now his training is very suited to that. In his rugby league days he had to spend a lot more time on the endurance of the game. I would say he’s much more powerful a year on.”
In San Francisco, Hayne will have a new head coach to impress in Chip Kelly, but on a positive note for the former NRL star, Kelly says that Hayne “has a skill set that’s intriguing.” When taking on the job at the 49ers, Kelly said: “You get really excited to see what he can do and what type of jump he can make in year two with a better understanding of how the game is played.”
As the former Parramatta Eels player gears up for his second attempt to force his way into reckoning for the 49ers, one thing working in his favour is his rare combination of size (6tf 2in, 220lb) and speed (4.53 sec 40-yard dash) which is quick for such a big running back, Hayne’s size placing him amongst the biggest in that department. This might find some truck with new head coach Kelly whose said recently, “Our philosophy has always been ‘big people beat up little people.’ We’ve always wanted to be big.”
In the coming months, eyes will be turning to see if the Hayne Plane will taxi and take-off a second time.