NRL: How the world reacted to Jarryd Hayne's decision

By James Matthey

Jarryd Hayne during his time with the San Francisco 49ers. Photo / AP
Jarryd Hayne during his time with the San Francisco 49ers. Photo / AP

Nobody saw this coming.

Jarryd Hayne surprised the rugby league world by signing a multi-million dollar two-year deal with the Gold Coast Titans.

After leaving the Parramatta Eels to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL - something he achieved in 2015 with the San Francisco 49ers - he then tried his hand at Rugby Sevens in a bid to go to Rio with the Fiji team.

When he failed to make the final cut for the 13-man squad, speculation raged as to what Hayne would do next. The 28-year-old met with Australian Rugby Union officials but the Waratahs declined to pick him up, making a return to the NRL or a stint in French rugby more likely.

Many expected him to pull off the Prodigal Son act and return to the Eels. When Kieran Foran walked out on his $5 million contract earlier this year, giving the Eels more room under their salary cap, it was almost seen as fait accompli.

But the club has endured a horror 2016. From a massive fine and losing points for salary cap rorting to having Foran quit and star playmaker Corey Norman engulfed in drugs and sex tape controversies, not to mention winger Semi Radradra flying to Fiji mid-season, nothing has gone right for the men from western Sydney.

This is just one more cross, albeit a huge one, to go next to season 2016.

The Titans snuck under the radar and pulled off the biggest coup in the club's history. They will reportedly pay Hayne upwards of $1.2 million a season - the richest contract in the history of rugby league.

Here's how the league world reacted.

The Fans

Jarryd Hayne had always been vocal about an Eels comeback should he return to the NRL.

Speaking at a function at Sydney's Star Casino on the day of the Superbowl earlier this year, he was adamant his loyalty to the club that gave him his start outweighed all else.

"Like I always said if I ever came back I'd go to Parra, if they wanted me. That was always something I said from the start," he said on that day.

In late 2014 the Eels issued a press release saying: "Hayne has signed a 'lifetime agreement' with the Eels, so if he chooses to return to the NRL, he will come back to Parramatta without question."

The former fullback also sent a letter to Eels members at the same time reinforcing his commitment to the club. "I'm leaving knowing that I have signed a 'lifetime agreement' with the Eels, so if I return to the NRL, it will be to Parramatta," Hayne wrote.

However, in a press conference today, Hayne said the only reason he didn't go back to Parramatta was because the club didn't offer him a contract.

Before they had heard from Hayne himself, fans were left fuming. Numerous supporters took aim at the Hayne Plane on Triple M's The Grill Team on Wednesday morning.

"I am absolutely fuming," said Andrew.

"Jarryd Hayne I hope you listen to this - you're nothing but a dog. You promised to come back to Parramatta, they nurtured you as a player and helped you become the player you are today.

"Parramatta let you go and fulfil your dream. They did the right thing by you and you always said it was never about the money.

"This is why people need to realise how full of s*** Jarryd Hayne is.

"He left the NRL and said it was never about the money and kept maintaining this. Now guess what, it's all about the money, it's all about the coin.

"You'd think he'd have some consideration given everything that the club, the fans and the players have been through.

"All the kids see him as a hero but all the kids need to look at this and say, 'Guess what, he's not the hero we thought he was.' It's not about loyalty and doing the right thing.

"I hope you listen to this Jarryd Hayne, you're not the bloke everyone thought you were."
Andrew wasn't the only one keen to vent.

"Mate, I'm absolutely filthy. My kids love him, my missus says he's my man crush, but I'm going to have to dump the dog," said Gaz.

"Absolutely putrid. After the year we've had, we let him go and chase his dream, come back and help rebuild our club mate."

The anger just kept coming.

"We're used to disappointed over the last 10 years ... part of me says the guy's doing the right thing for his career, part of me says this guy has just sold out," said Simon.

"Before he left (for America) he promised to come back to the Eels. It seems a pretty poor decision."

The Hayne Plane

Furious as the Parramatta faithful were, Hayne pleaded with the men and women who once cheered him on not to blame him for the way things had unfolded.

Speaking at a press conference to unveil his signing, he said it was always his intention to return to Parramatta, but the club's poor handling of the whole situation made that move impossible.

"There were a few clubs that offered straight away and I always wanted to go back to Parra," Hayne said.

"I was waiting for Parra's offer. I was waiting. I was waiting. I was waiting. It got to the point where I was having lunch with Timmy on Monday and I said, 'What's going on? Are you guys going to offer me a contract or not?'

"At the end of the day I had to make a decision. It's obviously torn me apart. It was tough emotionally, but deep down it's the right one."


The Titans

Coach Neil Henry has done an incredible job with the Titans this year. Nobody expected them to trouble anyone at the start of the season - not surprising seeing as they finished 14th in 2015. But they now sit seventh with nine wins and one draw from 19 games.

Gold Coast CEO Graham Annesley said Hayne was available for selection in this week's game against the Warriors, while Henry was excited at what he could bring to a side that's already exceeded expectations.

"It's certainly a great occasion for our club," Henry said.

"We all know what a talent he is. It is a sign that the club is certainly moving in the right direction. The last few years have certainly been tough, but this current group of players have certainly been performing week in and week out for our fans.

"Having Jarryd for this season is certainly a boost to our squad. I know that our players are excited to welcome him to our club.

"I'm certain that he will certainly have an impact at our club."

The Players

Former Brisbane and Queensland captain Gorden Tallis said the Gold Coast's signing was a huge coup for a club that is still struggling to make a mark in the region, and represented a blow to cross-code rivals the AFL.

"I think it's the biggest signing since Wally Lewis, when Wally went to play for the Seagulls," Tallis said on Triple M Brisbane's Marto and Ed Kavalee for Breakfast.

"Jarryd Hayne ... he's a guy who generates a heap of publicity and (in terms of) the AFL, it is a battle between the codes and they spend $20 million a year to get a foothold there and hope to get all the kids.

"Well I think Jarryd Hayne has equalled that, I think Jarryd Hayne signing for $2 million has equalled the $20 million that the AFL pour in there every year."

Cronulla hooker Mick Ennis echoed everyone's thoughts when he said the Titans "came out of nowhere" to pull off the Hail Mary of all Hail Marys.

"Playing up there on Monday night it's exactly what they need. Their crowds are coming back and someone like Jarryd will be perfect for them in terms of growing their club again. They've had a few tough years," he said on Nova's Fitzy and Wippa program this morning.

"They snuck under the radar ... all of a sudden they've come from nowhere.

"I want Jarryd back in the game - he's a superstar.

"I'm a bit over it (the speculation on his future). I'll be happy to get his signature on the books and get on with it ... the circus has gone on for ages."

It came as Hayne's former teammate Tim Mannah declared his close friend is not bigger than the Eels football club.

Mannah said he understands why Hayne chose to walk away from the Eels and look after himself.

"Gold Coast have offered him a very big sum and one thing we've learnt at the club is one player isn't bigger than the club," Mannah said.

"I don't know if we would have gone down that path of throwing that kind of money around.

"It's all done now so there's no point us crying over split milk.

"He's made the decision that's best for him. He's a grown man and he's got to look after himself.

"At the same time, Parra, we want to look after ourselves as well.

"It would have been nice to have him at Parra but he's looked after himself and it's a good chance for the club to kind of take a step back, look at what position we're in now.

"We've got a bit of space to work with and a bit of money to spend and we can go ahead and build a team we want to build."

The Media

Channel Nine reporter Danny Weidler broke the story on Wednesday morning and said Hayne's signing wasn't just a big tick for the Titans, but was also significant for the NRL in their battle against the AFL to be Australia's dominant footy code.

"We've seen that the AFL are very good at doing that - annoying rugby league in their territory or having big players turn up to the AFL in Sydney," Weidler said on The Grill Team. "Well this is a chance for the Gold Coast to stamp their authority on the area."

The radio program's co-host Matty Johns agreed, and said given the NRL owns the Titans, the signing may have had extra importance.

"The NRL controls the Titans. The Gold Coast Suns (AFL franchise) are absolutely struggling deluxe. I've got no doubt this is a strategic move as well," Johns added.
As we've seen, Eels fans are furious at Hayne. But Weidler said the club is as much to blame for allowing another club to swoop in.

"Because they've been such a basket case, I think it's been difficult for them to get their house in order and make a proper offer to Jarryd," Weidler said.

"The bumbling procedures that have ruined this year may have an impact down the track through ineptitude and an inability to make a massive play for Hayne like they should have.
"I think even the NRL were thinking it would be a great story for Hayne to go back to Parramatta. It would give their fans who have been absolutely hammered something to look forward to and something to enjoy."

Mark Geyer was gobsmacked.

"As far as rugby league news go, that's the biggest of the year."

Hayne is clearly still captivating the US - 49ers beat reporter Cam Inman penned an article for the Mercury News detailing Hayne's NRL return.

"Jarryd Hayne, who captivated the NFL last summer as the 49ers rookie import from Australia, is making a comeback. However, it's in Australia's National Rugby League," Inman wrote.

He also pointed out his return with the Titans was not the Titans of the NFL variety - those from Tennessee.


Betting Markets

One small step for Jarryd Hayne, one giant leap for the Gold Coast Titans.

Starting Wednesday morning as rank outsiders paying $67 to win the premiership this year, they firmed to $17 with the TAB after news of Hayne's arrival broke.

There are suggestions Hayne could step onto the field in a Titans jersey as early as this weekend.

"Punters got stuck in straight away when the news broke this morning with all the premiership bets today coming for the Titans," TAB's Glenn Munsie said.

"This is a side that was $251 to win the comp after a 38-nil loss to the Storm in round nine, now barely three months later, they're a win or two from being single figures with Hayne set to take the field."

The TAB also has the Titans paying $10 to win the 2017 title - the shortest odds in the club's history.

Social Media

Everyone's a comedian when it comes to mocking people on social media. But we've got to hand it to these guys, some of the tweets below made us chuckle.







- news.com.au

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