The Courier-Mail

COACH WARNS THE HARD PART IS YET TO BEGIN FOR SAN FRAN’S ROOKIE

- NICK WALSHAW

WELCOME to the starting line. That’s what the message said.

The brief text which, sent by head coach Jim Tomsula (pictured), was as much about warning his new Australian rookie as welcoming him to the NFL.

This message, in part, was “welcome to the starting line. It’s a long road.”

The 49ers coach added later: “Because the NFL, it’s an unforgivin­g place.

“It’s not like you make a milestone, exhale and say ‘oh, now I’m there’.

“Here, you play for your job every day.”

Nike is set to mass produce jersey 38 while sponsors, armed with a potential $12 million, fight for space on that rapidly improving physique.

While America may be treating this 27-year-old as a sporting rookie, this isn’t his first rodeo.

“That’s the funniest thing,” he said.

“Cracks me up when coach tells me how the season is going to be.

“I’m like ‘mate, I’ve played profession­al football for nine years’. It’s the same principles.

“The pre-season for pros, it means nothing. They’re just warming up.

“So I know exactly what it’s going to be like. Well, not exactly ... but I know it’s going to go to another level.”

Asked yesterday if he now considered Hayne’s old battlefiel­d a potential nursery, Tomsula threw out his recruiting pitch.

“Hey, if you got a lot of skill out there,” he said.

“If you’re somewhere else in the world and you can run fast, you can hit hard, you can catch a ball, throw a ball or tackle, this is the place for you.

“Everybody come here. I got a lot of recruiting.”

Already a host of NRL stars, led by livewire Roosters fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, have been identified as potential recruits for the US game.

Already, Colin Scotts, the Australian NFL player from the 1980s, has revealed how scouts are now ringing his phone constantly, looking for more players with power and speed like Hayne.

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