The Courier-Mail


Extraordin­ary journey is just the beginning


HANDS up all those who thought Jarryd Hayne was as much chance of cracking it in America as your local pub band.

NOW I’M GOING to Have to ask YOU TO PUT THEM down please BECAUSE I make so many mistakes WHEN I TYPE with one hand.

He got me. Did he get you too? Good luck to him. Sometimes it is actually a thrill to be proved wrong.

As challengin­g as what Hayne has done – and the real story hasn’t even started yet – is deciding where his story fits.

What do we call it? Where do we put him? How do we categorise it?

It’s surely the best something-or-other ever but what?

His story is so off the charts in terms of being beyond bizarre that it actually sits alone in its own little category.

You cannot rightfully compare his effort to epic performanc­es by Australian sportspeop­le because he hasn’t done anything yet when it truly matters.

So let’s just put all those Cathy Freeman, Don Bradman, Kieren Perkins, Australia II memories in a box and place them to one side.

What if Hayne fails to cut it when the season proper starts?

Nothing can denigrate the progress he has made but if he failed when it matters most, he would feel like a mountainee­r who climbed Mt Everest in a pair of thongs, got to within a few metres from the summit, then lost his footing. Stunning effort, but ... When Cadel Evans won the Tour de France, many critics claimed it was the greatest performanc­e by an Australian sportsman because he went into an arena in which foreigners traditiona­lly dominate and beat the lot of them.

There are some similar threads to Hayne but you cannot compare the two stories because they are essentiall­y so different.

Evans had been riding since he was a teenager and methodical­ly, systematic­ally chased his dream until he got it.

He was a cyclist who cycled to glory. He knew nothing else. Toss a soccer or a rugby ball in his direction and he admits he wouldn’t know what to do with it.

Hayne was a rugby league player in a foreign land learn- ing a code with a playbook which is harder to read than a Chinese crossword.

Some observers feel the best yardsticks for Hayne are the multi-talented journeymen who shone in several sporting fields.

When it comes to acrossthe-board talent Australia has never had a story to match the man of a million talents, Reg “Snowy’’ Baker, who excelled at more than 30 sports.

It’s pretty difficult to outshine a man who represente­d Australia as a rugby union halfback then, four years later, claimed a silver medal in the middleweig­ht boxing division at the 1908 Olympics.

Just as an aside, Baker slipped into the 4 x 200m freestyle relay at the same Games and ran fourth in the diving.

When it comes to across the board talent Australia has never had a story to match the man of a million talents, Reg “Snowy’’ Baker (above)

His story has a charm like no other but sport back then was a blissful pastime rather than a profession so you cannot compare what he did to Hayne’s effort to jump head first into the shark pool of NFL football without having played a solitary game and somehow make the cut.

Hayne’s story – at this early stage – is not the best, the biggest or the greatest sporting achievemen­t by an Australian.

But if he truly excels in the big league and you called it Australia’s most “remarkable’’ sports story, you’ll be desperatel­y hard to shoot down.

My dictionary defines remarkable as “astonishin­g, extraordin­ary ... amazing,’’ words which sit nicely in any sentence detailing Hayne’s achievemen­t.

Hayne’s story is already extraordin­ary.

It could soon become astonishin­g.

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Levi’s Stadium
Jarryd Hayne Levi’s Stadium
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