'Hayne plane' lands safely in NFL

Sat Sep 5, 2015 11:38pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Australian rugby league convert Jarryd Hayne is set to realize his dream of playing in the National Football League after making the San Francisco 49ers final roster on Saturday.

Hayne's selection into the 53-man squad completed an emotional journey for an iron-willed 27-year-old who stunned his country by walking away from a glittering career in the top-flight National Rugby League a year ago.

With no prior experience of American football, Hayne cried last October when he announced he would pursue the most unlikely of dreams.

But four highlight-laden displays in the pre-season games confirmed the 49ers' faith and left Hayne celebrating with overjoyed family members who flew to California.

"IT ALWAYS WORKS OUT! I thank GOD for WHAT HE has done and going to do on this incredible journey!!" Hayne tweeted after the news was announced.

A two-times winner of the NRL's Dally M medal -- the competition's award for most valuable player -- Hayne arrived in the United States an obscurity but immediately impressed scouts at a number of teams.

Hayne felt a natural affinity to the 49ers, however, where coach Jim Tomsula had experience working with rugby players during a stint in NFL Europe.

Hayne's signing of a three-year contract as an undrafted agent in March caused a buzz in Australia but pundits lined up to hose down expectations that the 6ft-2in (1.88m) talent could make the final cut.

"It was a long process, and with long processes comes a lot of dark days," Hayne told Australian broadcaster Fox Sports on Sunday.   Continued...

September 3, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne (38) runs with the football against San Diego Chargers defensive back Johnny Lowdermilk (42) during the third quarter in a preseason game at Levi's Stadium. The 49ers defeated the Chargers 14-12.  Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports