The Sunday Mail (Queensland)



JARRYD Hayne’s success in America is proof that our game, rugby league, is the greatest producer of athletes.

No other football code could produce an athlete like Hayne who could cross to the NFL and hold his own as a runner.

He is stepping, swerving and palming or stiff-arming their best.

Remember everyone saying there’s dozens of Haynes in every American college and while the ex-Eels sensation is a great league athlete, he’s just average in the US?

Well, it turns out Hayne is actually a pretty rare beast.

There’s also at least another five Hayne-like NRL players who would be able to compete in the NFL.

Hayne’s success in America is also why the NRL’s new free-to-air deal with Channel 9 is actually a great strategic move by CEO Dave Smith as it will expose the masses to league for the first time.

When I was playing league, the NFL wasn’t readily available on television.

Even if it was, there wouldn’t be a helmet big enough to fit my head and I valued my curls too highly back then.

To Hayne’s generation, the NFL is everywhere.

Foxtel covers games and the internet means following your favourite team from thousands of kilometres away is simple.

The new television rights deal will provide the NRL mass exposure to inspire kids in Perth, Melbourne and throughout the traditiona­l states through saturated league coverage.

People will be forced to watch it and when they do they will discover a great game with amazing athletes given space and time to show how gifted they are.

There has been a lot of criticism of Smith because of the deal he struck with Nine but it will provide the game with unpreceden­ted reach.

When David Gallop was in charge, people constantly criticised him for meandering in making decisions and ruling by committee rather than taking charge and making a bold decision.

With Smith, they have compared him unfavourab­ly to former AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou and wondered why he isn’t as decisive.

Well, here is Smith being decisive.

He has made a bold decision and we need to be patient to fully understand if it is the right one.

People will be entranced by league when they are exposed to it like Hayne was when he first began watching the NFL.

Our sport cannibalis­es itself too often.

We are too concerned with finding fault in our code.

Media, officials and fans have a habit of refusing to be happy about the game.

The facts are that league is in an excellent position and we should be proud of our code especially now that one of our own is succeeding on a world stage in a way no Australian has done before.

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