The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

IT HASN’T ALL BEEN PLANE SAIL­ING

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JAR­RYD Hayne has no idea who he has to pro­tect.

He should know. Ev­ery­one else does.

It’s so ob­vi­ous that, right now in the 49ers meet­ing room, head run­ning backs coach Tom Rath­man fires off routes and rushes, pro­tec­tions and passes like bul­lets from an M16.

So c’mon, Haynsey, who have you got? Quick, son. You need to know.

“But I didn’t know,’’ Hayne ad­mits. “They were talk­ing about chang­ing pro­tec­tion on plays and I’m think­ing, ‘hang on, I don’t even know who I’m pro­tect­ing in the first place’.

“Those first cou­ple of weeks, I’d walk out of the class­room say­ing, ‘I don’t know what just hap­pened that last hour ... I don’t know what’s go­ing on’.” They were the dark days of sport­ing story that has

a bright­ened with ev­ery step, with another big leap for­ward to come to­day when Hayne takes to the field again in a trial against the Den­ver Bron­cos.

“Oh, there’s been some dark days,’’ Hayne con­tin­ues. “Days where I thought it would be too much. Where I thought ‘what have I got my­self into?’.”

“(But) there was no way I was leav­ing.’’

When this Aussie odd­ity even­tu­ally makes that fi­nal cut and, bar­ring in­jury or some other calamity, he will, US jour­nal­ists will un­doubt­edly ask where it be­gan.

He will take them to Syd­ney’s Star Casino, to a ta­ble where he and Brett Finch sat to­gether, drink­ing beers.

“It was the Green Bay Pack­ers, a cham­pi­onship game,’’ Hayne re­calls. “Brett Favre was play­ing, Finchy’s favourite player, and we ended up at the casino in the early hours.

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