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The curious case of Jarryd Hayne

22 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
The curious case of Jarryd Hayne

The NFL’s most unlikely convert can be the 49ers' saviour - starting with the Thursday Night Football clash against derby rivals Seahawks

Hide anything with sharp edges because rivalries don’t come much bigger than this – especially in the NFL.

This week’s Thursday Night Football sees the San Francisco 49ers (23/10) host the Seattle Seahawks (5/14).

One man firmly under the spotlight will be Jarryd Hayne.

It has been an intriguing journey so far for the man who just last year was one of the most successful rugby league players in Australia.

Having shocked a nation by making the switch to the NFL, there has been a large learning curve – despite showing enough in pre-season to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

And although he represents something of a curio for NFL fans and 49ers fans alike, there are signs of life.

Before this weekend, Hayne had returned seven punts for 72 yards and run it eight times for 25 – not bad numbers for a rookie – and a turn of speed that belies his frame.

He had a forgettable weekend against the Ravens, however: fumbling his first punt return, mistaking the distance of a fair catch and then missing a block when asked to fill in with protection coverage – meaning quarterback Colin Kaepernick got sacked.

All easily avoidable errors, but certainly things you would expect from a newcomer to the sport.

Haynes will improve with each minute on the field and, with the 49ers forward line looking increasingly banged up, there is a good chance he will have the chance to redeem himself instantly, preferably at his ideal running back position.

His speed and brawn will come in useful against a misfiring, but still lethal, Legion of Boom.

Hence why the 49ers are 5/6 to get over 17.5 points at home.

The Seattle Seahawks come into Week 7 with a 2-4 record and, for a team one bad call away from winning the Super Bowl in February, that is an awful long way to fall.

A lot of it seems to be about confidence and mental toughness.

Let’s not be under any illusion, that single moment will have scarred plenty of Seahawks players.

But to be scrapping with the 49ers in the cellar of the NFC West? Unprecedented.

That leaves them at evens for under 24 points in the game – a total only reached once in the last three games.

There is a regular football – or ‘soccer’ – truism that might be applicable here.

The common theory dictates that regardless of how two teams might be performing, when it comes to a derby game – both sides raise their level instinctively.

And be in no doubt, Seahawks vs. 49ers is a derby game.

And every derby game needs a hero.

Can Jarryd Hayne reverse Seattle’s current 3-0 head-to-head winning streak? If he needs any motivation, he need only think back to last season.

Sat in the stands in Seattle before he signed for San Francisco, the scoreboard showed that elsewhere, the 49ers were losing.

The cheer that erupted from the Seahawks crowd was deafening.

“Wow,” he thought. “That’s pretty intense. That’s how strong the rivalry is.”

Hayne will experience it first-hand on Thursday, another point on the learning curve.

Whether he fumbles or flies is up to him.

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