League great Jarryd Hayne has retired from the NFL in a shock move to play rugby sevens for Fiji at the Olympics.
The San Francisco 49ers made the announcement today. Hayne played one season for the 49ers after leaving the NRL and the Parramatta Eels for a shot at breaking into one of the biggest sports leagues in the world.
"I am retiring from the NFL because the Fiji Rugby Sevens team reached out to me about the opportunity to join the team for the upcoming Olympics, and I simply could not pass that chance up," Hayne said in a statement.
"The Olympics has been something I have admired since I was a little boy, and it is an opportunity I feel very similar to me joining the NFL."
Hayne will travel to London today to join up with the Fiji sevens side ahead of this weekend's London Sevens event. Fiji are gold medal contenders for the rugby sevens inaugural appearance at the Olympics in Rio. Fiji currently lead the World Rugby sevens standings heading into the final round in London.
Hayne originally signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent in March last year. He appeared in eight games (one start) last season and registered 17 carries for 52 yards along with six receptions for 27 yards. He also returned eight punts for 76 yards on special teams.
"We would like to thank Jarryd for his contributions to the San Francisco 49ers organisation and our community over the last year," said 49ers general manager Trent Baalke.
"Jarryd is a tremendous example of what can happen when you commit to a goal and do everything in your power to make it a reality. He earned the right to wear a 49ers uniform and compete alongside the best in the game."
Hayne last week survived the first round of cuts ahead of the next NFL season.
"The past 12 months with the San Francisco 49ers have been absolutely incredible," he said.
"I could not have predicted how far I have come as an NFL player. To not only be able to play in a game but also say that I started a game in the NFL is something that I will remember for a lifetime."