It’s not often that a player is touted for a move to a new club a year down the line before he has even committed to one for the coming season, but then again Jarryd Hayne is no ordinary player.
Once a rugby league player with the world at his feet, the Sydney born star gave that up to try his arm at american football and rugby union sevens while also having more than his fair share of controversy follow him throughout his career. Indeed, following two years out of the game, Hayne signed for the Gold Coast Titans on a two year deal from August 2016, featuring in over twenty games for the Queensland outfit. However, due to his 11 month old daughter moving to Sydney with her mother, it is likely that Hayne will sacrifice over $500,000ASD to move back to his old club, Parramatta Eels, in order to fulfill his fathering duties.
It is perhaps ‘pie in the sky’, then, that the man behind the likely New York City rugby league team, set to feature in the English pyramid from 2019, is targeting Fiji’s RLWC star. Bid founder and Yorkshireman, Ricky Wilby, has stated that “Jarryd Hayne would be a perfect fit in terms of his already having gone to the United States and tried something new [in the NFL with San Francisco],” further outlining his intention to make contact with the former State of Origin star within a matter of months. “We want to sign the best players in the world with the right culture because we want to win competitions,” Wilby says and, with a huge war chest likely to be in tow for the new American outfit, who would bet against them being a success? Intending on appearing in either the Super League or Kingstone Press Championship in 2019 – unlike Toronto who started in the Kingstone Press League One – New York would intend on having five American players in a thirty man squad in their first campaign and the men behind the bid are believed to be encouraged by the potential shown in their RLWC team this winter. Furthermore, Wilby has been quoted as saying “NRL stars and other players and their agents have approached me, as have coaches.”
While he is aware it is all well and good for him to play “fantasy football” and talk to the great and the good of rugby league in order to build a team, Wilby is keen to ensure a coach is appointed first in order to select his squad and, when that has occurred, the team will then “go out with our shopping list” in order to further develop the sport in North America. Following the initial success of Canadians Toronto Wolfpack, who would bet against them succeeding?