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Jarryd Hayne retires from NFL to pursue Olympic rugby dreams

San Francisco running back Jarryd Hayne carries the ball during the second half of a preseason game against San Diego on Sept. 3.

San Francisco running back Jarryd Hayne carries the ball during the second half of a preseason game against San Diego on Sept. 3.

(Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

Jarryd Hayne’s NFL career is over after just one season.

The 28-year-old former Australian National Rugby League star announced his retirement from American football Sunday in order to pursue his Olympic dream with the Fiji Rugby Sevens team.

“The past 12 months with the San Francisco 49ers have been absolutely incredible,” Hayne said in a statement on the 49ers website. “I could not have predicted how far I have come as an NFL player. To not only be able to play in a game, but also say that I started a game in the NFL is something that I will remember for a lifetime.”

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Hayne’s short-lived NFL career came after a nine-year stint in the rugby league where he was one of the league’s highest decorated athletes, winning numerous awards including the player of the year award twice (2009, 2014) while with the Parramatta Eels.

He announced his sudden retirement from rugby in 2014. He then worked out for several NFL teams before he was ultimately signed by the San Francisco 49ers as a running back and punt returner.

In eight games, Hayne carried the ball 17 times for 52 yards and had six catches for 27 yards. He also returned eight punts for 76 yards.

“The Olympics has been something I have admired since I was a little boy, and it is an opportunity I feel very similar to me joining the NFL,” Hayne said.

Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme


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