Jai Bednall: Jarryd Hayne's Olympic dream is a joke

I'm not here to take potshots at Jarryd Hayne's decision to quit the NFL.

I'm not in the camp that wants to brand him a failure for turning his back on the 49ers after just one season.

I can understand the confused reaction to Monday's bombshell given how passionately Hayne spoke about his commitment to the American game in countless interviews before he left for his second season back in March.

"I believe I hold it in my own hands now," said Hayne, in one such interview with Nova's Fitzy & Wippa. "I've got the ability and the talent to be over there. I really don't think about (anything else). When you become so focused on Plan A, you don't really think about Plan B.

"If I was (ever to going to be) worried about if it didn't work, I would have been more worried last year when I went into the unknown. But it didn't phase me. I was so focused on what I was doing."

That all sounds like hogwash now that Hayne has so quickly turned his attention to playing Rugby Sevens at the Olympics.

But circumstances change.

I believe it was too early in the 49ers' preseason for any member of the current 90-man squad - let alone Hayne who played eight games last season - to have been convinced they weren't going to make it.

I don't believe Hayne was told by new coach Chip Kelly he was going to be cut from the final roster either. It seems far too early in the former Philadelphia Eagles mentor's tenure for him to have made a definitive call on whether Hayne was worth keeping around.

No, this feels like a judgment call by the former Parramatta Eel. He believed when he looked back on his sporting career he'd take more satisfaction from being an Olympian than, for argument's sake, playing 20 games in the NFL instead of eight.

Hayne probably decided he'd ticked the box of playing in the NFL and the chances of him ticking further boxes - like becoming a regular starter, even a star - were remote.

So why not take the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join the best athletes on earth in Brazil in August? Personally, I would have preferred to see what he could have achieved in the NFL this season, but it's his life, his call.

My main bone of contention with today's news lies not with Hayne's choice of sport - but his choice of country.

Because I hail from a state where rugby codes are an afterthought, all this country-hopping stuff is new to me. BUT ISN'T HAYNE BLOODY AUSTRALIAN?

I know he won't be the first person to compete for a nation he wasn't born in at an Olympics.

I know Semi Radradra pulled on the green and gold a couple of weeks back despite spending most of his life in Fiji and that it's been important for the rugby codes to allow these changes of allegiance to occur to keep their international tournaments competitive.

I know there are people like Brad Thorn who were born in New Zealand, played rugby league for Australia and rugby for New Zealand.

But come on, Hayne doesn't qualify, at least by what I believe the Olympics should represent.

Yes, his father is Fijian. Yes, he's played for the Island nation in a Rugby League World Cup before. The rugby codes can do what they want with their athletes. The Olympics should be sacrosanct.

In my book, if you want to represent a nation different to the one you called home as a child, why don't you move there?

If you're so passionate about pulling on the black and white on the biggest stage in world sport, why not make a firm commitment to living your life in Fiji?

But if you were born and raised in Minto, plan to move back to Sydney after the Olympics, and plan to spend the rest of your life in Australia, how about playing for Australia?

Imagine the confusion in America today when the news broke. Jarryd Hayne, the Australian sensation, was quitting to play for ... Fiji?

Star Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson showed his ignorance by tweeting: "Congrats Jarryd Hayne, you represent Australia with so much pride & dignity!"

Sorry Russ, that should have read Fiji.

- news.com.au

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