Victorious VB Blues coach Laurie Daley says departing Eels ace Jarryd Hayne holds a special place in the hearts of New South Wales fans and will always be welcome back should he return to rugby league.
The 26-year-old has quit Parramatta to chase his dream of playing in the NFL in the United States. The Eels have granted Hayne a conditional release but having signed a ‘lifetime agreement’ with the club he says he will only return to Parramatta should he come back to rugby league.
“Jarryd’s decision is obviously a blow but as he said he’s not ruling out a return and hopefully one day he’ll be back in Blue too,” said Daley.
“He’s a tremendous athlete and will be remembered by Blues fans as one of the best to pull on a New South Wales jumper in State of Origin. We thank him for his contribution to the VB Blues and wish him all the best because in his new career he will also be an ambassador for rugby league. NFL fans will want to see where Jarryd’s come from and that means interest in State of Origin can only grow.”
Having made his State of Origin debut in 2007, Hayne has managed 20 appearances for the VB Blues.
He was an integral part of the side led by Paul Gallen which managed to finally bring the State of Origin Shield back to New South Wales this year, with NSWRL Chairman Dr George Peponis OAM paying tribute to his contribution to the VB Blues.
“Jarryd’s been a great servant for the VB Blues and was instrumental in helping Laurie Daley’s side bring the shield back to New South Wales after nine years,” said Dr Peponis.
“He’s a dual Brad Fittler Medal winner which speaks for itself and while we’re obviously sad to see him leave we wish him all the best and hope he returns one day to play for us again.”
Hayne’s deeds for the VB Blues have made him one of the most popular players with New South Wales supporters.
New South Wales Rugby League chief executive David Trodden says Hayne’s contribution to the VB Blues over many years will continue to be felt long into the future.
“So many of the juniors playing our game have been inspired by Jarryd’s brilliance,” said Trodden.
“Those players are our next generation of stars and for that and his efforts for the VB Blues we must thank Jarryd and he knows he goes with our best wishes.”
Fortunately for Daley, depth in the outside backs is not an issue when it comes to the VB Blues.
South Sydney’s Dylan Walker and Alex Johnston and Newcastle’s Sione Mata’utia have all just been named in their first Holden Kangaroos squad for the Four Nations.
With Hayne withdrawing Walker is likely to be considered for a starting spot in the centres with the trio certain to get valuable experience as they push to make their State of Origin debuts next year.
“With so many of our young guns selected for Australia the future is bright for New South Wales,” said Daley.
“They have all been part of our junior programs and it’s exciting to think what the future holds for them when it comes to the VB Blues.”