Footballer Jarryd Hayne has blamed instability at the Parramatta Eels as the reason he has signed with the Gold Coast Titans, breaking a promise to return to club if he played rugby league again.
Having walked out on Parramatta in 2014 to pursue his “dream” of playing NFL, Hayne struggled at the San Francisco 49ers and was dropped to the practice squad late last year, playing just a handful of games before quitting in May 2016, hoping to play for Fiji’s rugby sevens at the Olympics, only to miss out on selection again.
He was rumoured to have been talking to the Australian Rugby Union in recent weeks to play super rugby with the NSW Waratahs.
Before a media conference today to announce a two-year deal with the Titans, Hayne said on social media that he spent weeks waiting for an offer from the Eels “but unfortunately due to instability with the board, no formal offer has been put on the table”.
Hayne said he “had to become open to other club offers” and the Titans were a “solid and stable team both on and off the field”.
“I’m saddened it had to end like this with the Eels and I’m truly sorry for disappointing all the Parramatta fans,” he said.
— Jarryd Hayne Apparel (@JHayneApparel) August 3, 2016
When he left the club two years ago, the Eels said Hayne had “signed a ‘lifetime agreement’ with the Eels, so if he chooses to return to the NRL, he will come back to Parramatta without question.”
Hayne made a similar statement in 2014, declaring “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”.
But Hayne, who may play for the Titans this weekend, today said he couldn’t wait any longer, despite subsequently, repeatedly promised fans that he would return to Parramatta, which a fortnight ago was placed in the hands of an administrator after its board was sacked.
Three months ago, the NRL docked all 12 premiership points the Eels won in the 2016 season, and fined them $1 million for cheating the competition’s salary cap.
At today’s media conference, Titans CEO Graham Annesley called Hayne “a proven turnstile clicker”. His contract is rumoured to be in the vicinity of $1.2 million a year.
Hayne said it was tough calling his former team mates at Parramatta yesterday to break the news.
“It was such an emotional time. But, you know, we’re growing, we’re moving forward and we’ll get on with the future,” he said.
“I waited as long as I could to get a formal offer off Parra and I didn’t.”
This morning Hayne said he would recover from the heartbreak of leaving the Eels because he was a professional.
“It’s sad and will take a couple of days for me to get over,” he said.