The Courier-Mail



HE HAS stunned America with his sensationa­l debut for the San Francisco 49ers but Jarryd Hayne’s family may be the only people on the planet not surprised.

“We all knew he could throw and catch an NFL ball – he used to play the game with us out on the street,” Hayne’s 10-year-old brother Jonah said last night.

The pride of Hayne’s siblings – Jonah, younger brother Julius, 5, and sister Evie, 12 – is matched only by his father Manoa, a talented Fijian Australian who played rugby league for the Rabbitohs, Wests and the Warriors.

Manoa said his son was “working hard and following his dream” in the NFL.

“It was brave, especially walking away from a $10 million contract (in Sydney) to start over again living out of a suitcase and waiting for a phone call,” he said.

But it’s a gamble set to pay huge dividends. Hayne has been an instant hit in the US, with his No.38 jersey in hot demand at the San Francisco 49ers team store.

A staff member said: “Every time I pick up the phone, people are saying: ‘Have you got Hayne, have you got Hayne?’ It’s crazy.”

JARRYD Hayne, Jesse Williams, three other Australian­s and a Kiwi got early good news but face some more nervous days as their NFL clubs decide whether to keep or cut them.

The final week of the NFL pre-season is a cut-throat time, with team management tapping players on the shoulder and sending them on the way.

The clubs need to reduce their rosters to 53 by Sunday.

Former NRL star Hayne survived the first round of roster reductions at the San Francisco 49ers as expected.

Williams the 191cm, 148kg Brisbane defensive tackle, who had a cancerous kidney removed just three months ago, continued his miraculous recovery by dodging the Seattle Seahawks’ initial cuts.

Another Australian giant, 198cm, 145kg offensive tackle David Yankey, appears set to remain with the Minnesota Vikings after surviving the cull.

One of the duelling Australian punters Brad Wing will be gone from the Pittsburgh Steelers roster by Sunday.

New Zealand running back Paul Lasike’s NFL dreams remain in reach, with the Ari- zona Cardinals keeping the 25year-old while axing 11 players.

However, Geelong-raised Dallas Cowboys punter Tom Hornsey, US college football’s top punter for 2013 after starring with the University of Memphis, was cut after competing with incumbent Chris Jones for the job.

It was no surprise Hayne was not among the 10 players axed by the 49ers after he dazzled coaches, fans and US media in three pre-season games in recent weeks.

Hayne is expected to make the final 53-man roster, although the final pre-season game against the San Diego Chargers on Friday could decide his fate.

The 49ers play their NFL regular-season opener against the Minnesota Vikings on September 14.

The team has multiple options at Hayne’s running back and punt return positions.

Head coach Jim Tomsula described Bruce Ellington, the team’s punt returner last season, as “very quick” and “explosive” after he shrugged off injury to play against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Ellington said he was determined to keep his job.

 ??  ?? THAT’S MY BOY: Jarryd Hayne's father Manoa Thompson with kids (from left) Jonah, Julius and Evie; (below) Hayne with mum Jodie.
THAT’S MY BOY: Jarryd Hayne's father Manoa Thompson with kids (from left) Jonah, Julius and Evie; (below) Hayne with mum Jodie.
 ??  ?? A KEEPER: Jarryd Hayne survived the first team cull.
A KEEPER: Jarryd Hayne survived the first team cull.

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