'Hayne Plane' ready for NFL take off

Tue Aug 25, 2015 5:16am EDT
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - NFL hopeful Jarryd Hayne showed he was a hard man to bring down in his first two pre-season games for the San Francisco 49ers. Putting a stop to the hype surrounding the Australian rugby league international could prove equally challenging.

Hayne's bid to break into the 49ers' 53-man roster has captivated his home nation since his tearful announcement last October that he was quitting a wildly successful rugby career to pursue his American dream.

His tackle-busting runs against the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys have taken the hype to a new level, while adding a breath of fresh air to a franchise that has had to deal with the sudden departure of former coach Jim Harbaugh and the retirements of a number of players.

Hayne's breath-taking plays in the number 38 jersey would be familiar to fans of Australia's National Rugby League where Hayne was one of the game's highest paid players in the sport's richest competition.

A two-time winner of the NRL's 'Dally M' medal for the most valuable player, Hayne would often make a mockery of opposition defenses with his jinking runs and his raised-arm celebrations after scoring tries became known as the 'Hayne Plane'.

Though he was hailed for his bravery in quitting the NRL, many thought his bid was a pipe-dream that would ultimately see him make a sheepish return to his home-town Sydney after a few months.

San Francisco's announcement in March that they had signed Hayne to a three-year deal as an unrestricted free agent took the Australian a step closer to his dream but winning a spot on the final roster would represent an extraordinary achievement for a 27-year-old with no prior experience of the sport.

The Australian's gutsy tilt has also won admiration in the United States, prompting 49ers coach Jim Tomsula to try to hose down the hype.   Continued...