Prior to the 2015 season, the San Francisco 49ers brought in NRL star Jarryd Hayne in hopes of turning him into an NFL player. That did not work out as Hayne has returned to NRL, but that is not stopping the 49ers and other teams from trying to find more raw talent from down under. The 49ers are one of 16 teams with representatives on hand for a workout of NRL stars Jason Taumalolo and Valentine Holmes. Other teams include the New York Jets, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, and Arizona Cardinals.
Taumalolo (23 yo) and Holmes (21 yo) are under contract in the NFL through 2017, so it would appear they are not leaving quite yet. Their season finished up after they faced off in London at the Australia-New Zealand Four Nations final. They flew from there to Los Angeles and will take part in a workout this weekend.
Jeff Foster, president of National Football Scouting said, “We'll weigh and measure them and put them through a series of timed events like the 40 yard dash, three cone drill, the shuttles, we'll broad jump and vertical jump ... From there we'll run them through some simple position specific drills.”
Hayne attempted to learn the running back position, as well as kick and punt returning. He showed some flashes in the preseason, but he was not developing in the regular season and he decided to pursue an Olympic opportunity this summer. The Olympic dream did not pan out, and now he is back in NRL.
Hayne was 27 when he come over to the NFL. Taumalolo and Holmes will still be learning football from scratch, but given their younger ages, it gives them a little more wiggle room still early in their careers. Taumalolo had this to say about their age compared to Hayne’s:
“The time is important,” he said.
“At my age ... Jarryd Hayne didn’t get the luxury of being that young and I feel I’m at the right age to make the most of any opportunity.
“I have plenty of years ahead of me so why not give it a crack now? I’m at that age where you think nothing can break you, I could always go back to rugby league if things in the NFL didn’t work out.”
Given Hayne’s decision to return, it will be interesting to see how teams address this notion that they could always return to NRL, and to figure out how committed they are to making a go of it.