NFL: Hayne returns home ready to fight for future

Jarryd Hayne faces an uncertain future in the NFL after the 49ers fired their coach. Photo / Getty
Jarryd Hayne faces an uncertain future in the NFL after the 49ers fired their coach. Photo / Getty

Jarryd Hayne plans to spend the first weeks of his hard-earned holidays studying up on the NFL playoffs in readiness for another season with the San Francisco 49ers.

Hayne returned home to Sydney on Wednesday facing an uncertain future in American football following the sacking of the 49ers coach Jim Tomsula, the believer who initially convinced the 27-year-old to choose his franchise over Detroit.

As 49ers owner and chief executive Jed York ponders a shortlist of potential successors to Tomsula, Hayne accepts he'll be at the mercy of the incoming coach.

But after a breakthrough season, in which he played eight games for the famous franchise either side of a six-week demotion to their practice squad, Hayne hopes to return to San Francisco in April to do it all again.

"That's the plan," he told a media scrum at Sydney airport. "Obviously with a new coach on board, hopefully he wants me back and, if that's the case, I'll be back to Santa Clara, California."

The 49ers retain Hayne's contract rights after playing the ex-Parramatta, NSW and Australian rugby league ace - albeit fleetingly - during their last game of the season, a 19-16 overtime win over St Louis Rams, just two hours before Tomsula was fired.

The harsh reality, though, is the 49ers' new coach may well view Hayne's attempt at cracking the NFL big time a fanciful gamble and will have the option to cut him loose at any moment.

Even if the 49ers persist with their rookie recruit, Hayne still must endure the same painstaking and challenging process he did last year just to make the final 53-man roster from a 90-man squad for the 2016-17 season start in September.

But an upbeat Hayne is vowing to pursue his "dream" and says he already feels like a winner just by giving up his million-dollar-deal with the Eels to try to make it in the NFL.

"I chased a dream and I did that and everything else I achieved was a bonus. It's been incredible," he said. "All the support has probably been the biggest thing for me; all the support I received back here and definitely in California with the 49ers fans.

"To see so many Australians in the crowd. It was really good in that last game to hear the Aussie chant happening. That brought a smile."

After such an intense season, Hayne admitted he'd find it tough to zone out while enjoying family time in Australia.

"If anything, it's going to be the task to switch off," he said. "Obviously with the playoffs coming up, it's going to be fun watching that and I guess diagnosing their defence and offence. It's always fun.

"I'm still a student of the game, so there is always going to be a learning process that I enjoy."

Hayne described Tomsula as a huge influence in his maiden season and didn't know what his sacking meant for his own future.

"He was a massive reason why I signed at the Niners," Hayne said. "He did everything he could to give me game time and to put me out there, so I'm hugely thankful for Jim and everything he did for me."

-AAP

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