Jarryd Hayne has called it quits in the NFL to play Sevens rugby for Fiji

Photo: Brian Bahr/ Getty.

Jarryd Hayne is quitting NFL to play for Fiji’s rugby Sevens team in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The former rugby league player made the announcement in a statement released by the San Francisco 49ers today.

Here’s what he said.

“I’d like to thank Jed and the entire York family for giving me the opportunity to fulfill my dream of playing in the National Football League. I also want to thank Trent and his staff, as well as Jim Tomsula, Tom Rathman and the other coaches who invested in me to make this dream a reality. I’d also like to thank Coach Kelly for the opportunity to come back this year. The support and understanding from the 49ers organization was unbelievable when I let them know about my decision to pursue another dream. The past 12 months with the San Francisco 49ers have been absolutely incredible. 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.

“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. 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.

“The 49ers organization has been incredibly supportive throughout my journey and I cannot thank them and the support staff enough. I am especially grateful to the strength and conditioning coaches, trainers and medical staff, equipment guys, public relations crew, chefs, logistics, and merchandise staff for their countless hours helping me in many different ways, so I could focus on football. Thank you to the fans from down under, as well as those around the world, who stood behind me and supported me along this amazing journey. I also want to thank the boys, especially my running back brothers, for their help and support in my transition to the NFL. I wish the team nothing but the best for the upcoming season.

“Last but not least, I would like to thank the 49ers Faithful for your unwavering support. From day one you have always been in my corner and I can’t thank you enough for the love you’ve shown for the kid from down under. Signing off, your mate, number 38.”

Trent Baalke GM of the 49ners said Hayne was a great example of what can happen when you commit to a goal and work hard to achieve it.

“He earned the right to wear a 49ers uniform and compete alongside the best in the game,” he said.

“We fully support Jarryd’s decision to pursue another dream – representing the Fiji Rugby Sevens team in this summer’s Olympic games. We look forward to watching him in Rio and wish him continued success.”

Hayne, who originally signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent in March 2015, appeared in eight games (one start) last season as running back cut under former coach Jim Tomsula.

He quickly make his mark on American football with plays like this shoulder charge.

By September he was already getting noticed by the NFL executives, who said he was impressed the rookie had taken to the sport so quickly.

“It’s highly unusually to be honest to have a new player really break through in the pre-season, let alone a new Australian player,” NFL executive vice president of international Mark Waller said.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a star of another sport make a transition… And I can’t imagine it will happen that often. I think it’s a testament to what an extraordinary athlete he is.”

But the dream run didn’t last long.

By November he was released from the team after being waived from the roster following running back Kendall Gaskins’ addition to the active roster.

Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan is supportive of Hayne’s decision and said he will be one of 14 players vying for 12 spots on the squad for Rio.

While it will be his first time playing for a Sevens team, it will not be his first time playing for Fiji.

Hayne previously represented the country in rugby league during the 2008 World Cup.

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