Australian Hayne closer to NFL dream with 49ers futures deal
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian rugby league international Jarryd Hayne is one step closer to his realizing his dream of carving out an NFL career after securing a futures contract with the San Francisco 49ers.
The 27-year-old announced his deal at a media conference in Sydney on Tuesday, five months after stunning sports-mad Australia by quitting the country's top-flight rugby league competition to try his hand in American football.
Hayne fielded interest from three NFL clubs, turning down the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions before opting for the 49ers.
"From 2015, I'm going to be a San Francisco 49er," Hayne told reporters, putting the team's red cap on his head.
"This is a small step in the right direction, the hard stuff starts now."
Players on futures deals are locked up exclusively to train with their NFL team in a 90-man camp, which is progressively whittled down to select players for an active 53-man roster.
Hayne was one of Australia's highest paid players in the National Rugby League and was joint winner of the "Dally M" award as player of the season last year.
His bid to break into the NFL, one of the world's most competitive professional sports leagues, has enthralled Australia, with regular updates in local media and rampant speculation over his playing future.