Hayne to wear SF49 number at Auckland Nines
EDEN PARK NEXT FIELD OF DREAMS FOR JARRYD HAYNE
From Wembley and Old Trafford to the mega-stadiums of the NFL, Jarryd Hayne has graced many of the world’s great sporting arenas.
But for the former NFL convert turned Gold Coast Titan, playing at the home of the All Blacks still provides a unique thrill.
Hayne, who will be a star attraction of the Downer NRL Auckland Nines on February 4 and 5, learned just how sacred Eden Park is to rugby fans when he attended a test match between the All Blacks and Springboks in 2013. He vividly remembers a young Beauden Barrett coming on as a replacement for an injured Dan Carter and cutting the Springboks to shreds.
“I love playing at Eden Park,” Hayne said. It is always great to play on a pitch that is accompanied by such history and enormous talent.
“It is something that I know is very treasured by the All Blacks. I watched a test between All Blacks and Springboks and to see how much they love the jersey - and the passion - was awesome.
“Beauden Barrett came on for Dan Carter. At that stage it was neck and neck and Beauden just ripped them apart. I was like ‘man who is this dude’?
“You could tell he was pretty special.”
Hayne experienced a packed house at Eden Park for himself when the Parramatta Eels defeated the Warriors in a season-opening NRL match in 2012 - and he is chomping at bit to get out on the hallowed turf with the highly-fancied Titans at the NRL Nines.
“100 per cent. I am pumped. I have watched it every year. Last year when I came back from the NFL it was on during my break so I was pumped about that.”
Hayne has a connection to New Zealand league through his father Manoa Thompson, who was a foundation Warrior in 1995. However he truly developed an affinity for the country when holidayed in Mt Maunganui with good mate and former Warrior Feleti Mateo over New Year’s Eve in 2012.
The pair camped out on a beach and visited the set of the film Chronicles of Narnia.
“I absolutely loved it. Feleti was always telling me how good it was but I didn’t believe it until I went over there myself. There was a little café there on the coast which had the best fish I have ever had. It was awesome.
“Probably the thing I enjoyed the most was how many people were outside. It reminded me of my childhood, always being outside.”
A two-time Dally M player of the year winner, Hayne was at the peak of his powers when he left the NRL at the end of the 2014 season to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL (something he would famously achieve with the San Francisco 49ers).
Still just 28, he is well and truly young enough to re-establish himself as one of the greatest players in the game. He isn’t, however, overly motivated by individual honours – describing his 2014 Dally M honour as the product of Eels coach Brad Arthur’s intelligent game plan.
“[The Dally M] wasn’t something that I kind of ‘did’ that year. I just played and had fun. We had a great coach in Brad Arthur and he came up with a game plan to really get me involved and utilise my ability.
“Just having fun and being the best I can be is the main thing for me now. Trying to better myself is the thing I love the most. For me it’s more about winning games and it is more important to play finals footy.”
With the Titans already boasting star young halves Kane Elgey and Ash Taylor, big things are expected now that Hayne has settled in after joining the club late last season.
The Gold Coast club appears primed for a serious tilt at the NRL Nines, followed by a run deep into the NRL finals.
“That’s obviously the plan,” says Hayne.
“We’ve got a very young team so a lot of our success this year will be down to the young guys really taking things on board and taking that next step in their games so we come up to the level that the great teams play at”.
Tickets can be purchased now via ticketek at www.ticketek.co.nz/nines
• DATE: SAT 4 & SUN 5, FEBRUARY 2017
• VENUE: EDEN PARK, AUCKLAND
• CORPORATE HOSPITALITY
PACKAGES: On-sale now - contact Donna Churton.
Phone: + 64 309-2400 or +64 27 545-5353
· All 16 NRL clubs together in Auckland
· Featuring 288+ star players
· 48 Australian internationals; 44 Kiwi test players; 45 State of Origin stars; 68 Pacific Nation reps have appeared at the NRL Auckland Nines so far
· 31 action packed games
· More speed! More tries! More fun!
· 9 players per team, 9 minute halves
· NZ $2.6 million dollars + in prize money
· Over 80,000 fans expected over 2 days