Hayne: fullback to punt returner?
Jarryd Hayne departs rugby league as one of the most feared kick-returners in the game, and sees his ability to bring the ball back in traffic as his ticket to the NFL big time.
Highlights from Jarryd Hayne's NRL career
As Peter Carroll, the head coach of current Super Bowl champions the Seattle Seahawks, described Hayne as "an incredible athlete" at a press conference, the NSW Origin custodian's best chance of cracking the NFL looks to be as a punt returner or a running back.
Hayne ranks second to only Greg Inglis in kick returns in the NRL, averaging 13.3 metres per run and 61.3 kick return metres per match, and has long had a penchant for breathtaking long-range tries, with the Knights in Round 16 and the Sharks in Round 21 both victims of 80 metre-plus runs from the Eels no. 1.
Speaking to Triple M on Wednesday morning, Hayne indicated he'd already been eyeing off the NFL's broken field play with relish, with a staggered defensive line more common in the American game than what he brings the ball back to in rugby league.
"That's one of the things when I watch the game so closely I see the return backs," Hayne said.
"That's what pushed me to say 'hang on a minute, some of these blokes can't even make 5-10 yards, surely I can make that.'
"They've got blockers; they've got schemes that open up space for those types of blokes so I've already thought about it already."
The 26-year-old also revealed he had practiced catching techniques with former Tigers and Knights back-rower Corey Paterson, who himself is embarking on a switch to boxing after being touted as an NFL punter in his younger days.
Hayne has previously trained with the UTS gridiron team during down time over the past two years, and recently travelled to the US for a tour of the world class facilities of the Seahawks and college powerhouse Washington State.
Seahawks coach Carroll was reluctant to discuss Hayne's imminent arrival in the US, or whether the franchise had expressed an interest during his visit last month, but lavished praise on the two-time Dally M Medal winner.
"He’s an incredible athlete and a great competitor, which is the kind of stuff we kind of like," Carroll said.
"We will see where it goes. I am afraid to mention anything because I am not sure of the rights here and I don’t know about the contract issues down there."
Carroll pulled no punches when it came to his thoughts on making the transition from the NRL to the NFL, but was enthusiastic about the skill and athleticism present in the 13-man game.
"I think it would be really hard," Carroll said.
"I think it would be a tremendous challenge and only a certain few could do it and there would need to be a lot of patience from the club that goes for it if you do it.
"It is an exciting thought, anyway. I’ve always thought it would be really cool to do, to recruit down there and all that, because there’s some great players.
"It’s a great game and it’s a very physical, demanding game, and those guys have all the same kind of stuff that we’re looking for in our guys.
"They are great athletes. They run fast, they hit hard. They can handle the ball. The style of throwing and catching things is different and running routes is different to whipping it out there. We’re looking for great athletes to make the transition. I’m sure that our guys could cross over too."