What No.38 now means to Jarryd Hayne
It became the hottest selling jersey during his brief stint in the NFL and as he prepares to wear No.38 for perhaps the final time at this weekend's Downer NRL Auckland Nines, Jarryd Hayne has opened up about what the number has come to represent.
Hayne was invited by promoters Duco Events to wear the No.38 again when he leads the Titans out onto Eden Park on Saturday and the former San Francisco 49er had no hesitation in taking up the offer.
But more than the challenge of earning a place on an NFL roster less than a year after being named the best player in the Telstra Premiership, the meaning of the number 38 goes back to the very beginning of his days with Parramatta.
As he takes the first steps to proving that he remains one of rugby league's elite at almost 29 years of age, Hayne said the spirit of the Nines is very true to the spirit of what No.38 has come to mean to him.
"It's a bit of journey," Hayne said of what No.38 has come to mean to his career.
"The start of my NRL career I got the gear No.38, the start of my NFL career I got the gear No.38 and they just asked if I wanted to wear it and I was fine with it.
"It's just a journey, a kid just having fun from Campbelltown, that's what it represents for me."
Hayne was the Titans representative at the captains' call on Friday morning and will share the duties with half Kane Elgey.
But in terms of captaining the club through the season proper, Hayne had no hesitation in nominating prop forward Ryan James as the team's leader.
"More so because I'm one of the oldest and one of the most experienced," Hayne said of the Nines captaincy.
"We all really look to Ryan James as our leader – I know I do. He's someone that's been there for a while and that's always good, to have that guy that's been there for a while."
After a flirtation with rugby sevens after his stint with the 49ers came to a close this time last year, Hayne is excited by his Nines debut but has no doubt even nine minutes of frantic action will do more to test the lungs than a gruelling pre-season.
"It's going to be tough and very hard on the lungs," Hayne said. "Everyone's excited. First kind of real game back and it's an awesome concept and something I'm looking forward to.
"It has been pretty tough but every pre-season is tough and not that enjoyable. The Nines really celebrates the end of pre-season and the start of business.
"A lot of the young guys do get rewarded for really good pre-seasons and the Nines is a reward for them.
"Guys like me having a bit more open space and a bit more freedom. I think it's a real fun concept and something that I really enjoy.
"Parra will be tough, the Sharks have brought a good roster over so it's going to be tough.
"It's nine minutes so if you get the bounce of the ball anything can happen. What I've been telling my guys is to go out there and have fun and play for each other.
"When it starts to hurt try and stay up because it will definitely start to hurt pretty early."