Parramatta Eels star Jarryd Hayne has quit the National Rugby League (NRL) in order to play in America’s National Football League (NFL).
Hayne has withdrawn from the Kangaroos Four Nations side and has accepted a conditional release from the Eels.
In a statement on the Eels official website, Hayne said he had been considering switching codes for the past two years.
“For the past 24 months I’ve been thinking about having a crack in the NFL, and over the last 12 months I’ve been seriously considering it,” the statement read.
“Today I can officially announce that I will be heading to the United States to pursue an opportunity to play American Football.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, and at my age, this is my one and only chance at having a crack at playing there.”
It is understood Parramatta was only informed of his decision last night.
In September, the Eels skipper was invited for a personal tour of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and a Washington State College football team.
Hayne also spent two ‘secret’ training sessions with the UTS American football team in October.
After the sessions, Hayne asked Gridiron Australia representatives to organise a trial at an NFL franchise.
His NRL contract is due to expire at the end of 2015.
Hayne was named joint winner of the 2014 Dally M Player of the Year Award, along with North Queensland Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston.
Here is Hayne’s full letter to Eels supporters:
Dear Blue and Gold Army,
For the past 24 months I’ve been thinking about having a crack in the NFL, and over the last 12 months I’ve been seriously considering it.
Today I can officially announce that I will be heading to the United States to pursue an opportunity to play American Football.
I will be withdrawing from the Kangaroos Four Nations side immediately, and accepting a conditional release from the Eels to make the move overseas.
The reason I didn’t make this decision any earlier was because of the part I played in getting Brad to the club and the way we finished the season. I felt I owed the Club one more year and I gave it everything I could.
It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, and at my age, this is my one and only chance at having a crack at playing there.
I’m excited about the potential opportunities that lie ahead. I’ve known the deadline has been looming for me to make this call, and I believe the right time is now.
I’m so passionate about the challenge that lies ahead for me, not only as an athlete but more so as a person. It’s the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life. I’m leaving my teammates, friends, and most importantly my family; but for me to grow as an athlete and a person I feel this is the right step to take.
It hasn’t been an easy decision for me to leave the Eels, the club’s been my home and family since I was 13, and I’ve always been proud to pull on the Blue and Gold jersey with my teammates.
The hardest thing about leaving the club is there’s stability for the first time in a long time, but I know where my heart lies and I’m following that.
I’m always telling people to chase their dreams and follow their hearts, if I don’t live by that I’m not being honest with myself.
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.
I’m grateful to all of you for the support you’ve shown me at this club, thank you.
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