I had to write something on this at some point. All over social media, you can’t log in these days without some form of update on Jarryd Haynes progress in the NFL.
Some people, such as myself, follow this with a lot of interest. Code-hopping players are always fun to track but this is the first real time that a high profile rugby league player has attempted such a drastic switch to a sport which is essentially at the core of American sporting.
Then there are those on social media that are fed up with it. They are crying that its over saturation, that no one really cares any more and that its not that big of a deal.
These people could not be more wrong. It IS that big of a deal.
The only time NFL makes the media over here in New Zealand is usually a side piece the night before and night of the Super Bowl.
We’ve had Kiwis/Australian players in the NFL before such as the likes of Paul Laisake, David Dixon, Riki Ellison etc. But this is the first time that it has had people talking, not only about the player but about the sport itself.
News outlets are covering every little detail that goes into the process of transferring from international league star to professional NFL player. People are being exposed to the workings of the sport in a way that shows people how hard it is to crack.
Its created interest.
More people will be inclined to watch any game of the San Francisco 49ers this season now that they have become emotionally invested in the journey of ‘The Hayne Plane.’
Sky and ESPN have been posting none stop about covering the San Francisco games this season, allowing it to reach a market previously uninitiated to the NFL. Now, TVNZ has secured the rights to play the NFL free to air.
Creating interest and making people tune in and learn more about the NFL is the first step to making the sport bigger down here.
We already have our own local league in New Zealand that struggles from time to time with numbers. The 1st step would be increasing the numbers of those playing. It could also be introduced at schools as part of the Physical Education curriculum.
Hopefully with more interest from Haynes journey, more schools will be looking into American Football as a fun alternative to the regular curriculum.
There is so much interest that there are rumours that NFL scouts are looking more closely at rugby (both league and union) for athletes that have a natural running game.
Hayne has opened the gates for more players to try and cross the line into American Football.
Big money contracts not to mention crazy endorsement deals. And you can guarantee that there will be some American players that will be looking down here to potentially try a swap to rugby.
America is rugby’s great sleeping super power. If they invested more time and money into developing players, they could truly be a nation to deal with.
I have only been a follower of the NFL for a few years but even I can tell the potential that the Jarryd Hayne situation has.
It’s opened doors not only for him but any Australian/Kiwi athlete that could be looking at making the switch. Doors open both ways. Perhaps in time, American athletes will look to move down here for a taste of rugby.
Either way, at the end of the day-The Hayne Plane carries much more than just himself and his career. He carries the future potential of an entirely new age of sport.