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49ers in Talks to Host Preseason Game in Australia


The NFL’s international flavour could soon be expanding down under if the San Francisco 49ers have their way. The team is reportedly considering playing one of its four preseason games in Australia, following the huge following it has received since signing former National Rugby League MVP Jarryd Hayne.

It would be an enormous understatement to say that Australians love their sport, especially when a local hero catches on and draws in new fans. When he abruptly quit the National Rugby League – in the prime of his career and as one of the marquee names of the game – to pursue his American football dream, many expected Hayne to be back on Aussie soil before the NFL’s opening weekend.

Instead, he became the breakout story of the preseason, with his exhilarating punt returns and Marshawn Lynch-esque refusal to be tackled earning him accolades in not one, but two continents.

“We’re fully aware of the interest Hayne has created in Sydney and Australia,” said 49ers chairman John York, adding the move is “something [they would] definitely consider with the NFL.”

The game is expected to be played at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, a monstrous building with a capacity of over 80 000. It was initially constructed for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but now plays host to some of the nation’s biggest sporting events, including a sold-out series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks to open the 2014 MLB season.

For the few but incredibly vocal fans of the NFL in Australia, securing just a preseason game might leave them feeling a little underwhelmed, especially after seeing London earn more and more regular season games on a yearly basis.

But for casual fans of the sport, or just plain Hayne supporters, this game gives the public their best chance to see their golden boy tearing up the gridiron once more.

Baby steps like these are exactly what the NFL needs to boost interest in the product all over the world, and they couldn’t have picked a better team to get the ball rolling.

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