(The Sports Xchange) - Jarryd Hayne announced his retirement from the National Football League on Sunday after playing one season with the San Francisco 49ers.
Hayne, a running back, said the opportunity to play rugby sevens for Fiji in this year’s Rio Olympics prompted the decision.
“I am retiring from the NFL because the Fiji Rugby Sevens team reached out to me about the opportunity to join the team for the upcoming Olympics, and I simply could not pass that chance up,” Hayne said in a statement.
“The Olympics has been something I have admired since I was a little boy, and it is an opportunity I feel very similar to me joining the NFL.”
Hayne, 28, a former rugby league champion, signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent on March 3, 2015.
He appeared in eight games (one start) last season and had 52 yards on 17 rushes and also caught six passes for 27 yards. He returned eight punts for 76 yards.
“Jarryd is a tremendous example of what can happen when you commit to a goal and do everything in your power to make it a reality. He earned the right to wear a 49ers uniform and compete alongside the best in the game,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement.
“We fully support Jarryd’s decision to pursue another dream -- representing the Fiji Rugby Sevens team in this summer’s Olympic games. We look forward to watching him in Rio and wish him continued success.”
The Australian-born Hayne was a star in the National Rugby League competition in Australia from 2006-14 before joining the 49ers.
Though born in Australia, his father is from Fiji.
Editing by Andrew Both