Jarryd Hayne, Detroit Lions
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Aussie Superstar Jarryd Hayne Finally Ready to Become a Detroit Lion

After what has felt like an endless string of setbacks, delays and inconveniences, it appears elite rugby league talent Jarryd Hayne is finally set to announce an agreement with the Detroit Lions to a futures contract.

Hayne turned the National Rugby League – one of Australia’s premier football codes – on its head in October 2014, with news that he was preparing to leave the country and trial with several teams in pursuit of his NFL dream.

Immediately, the focus turned to whether or not the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder would be able to translate his incredible skill set to arguably the most specialised sport in the world.

Enter the Detroit Lions: a franchise that has consistently proven to have no qualms about where and how to sign unique talents. In August 2013, the Lions signed Havard ‘Kickalicious’ Rugland on a wing, a prayer and a YouTube trick shots video. Later that year, the franchise signed rugby speedster Carlin Isles to the practice squad.

In both instances, the players’ respective times spent in Honolulu blue were embarrassingly short. Hayne, however, is a different cut of athlete. Reggie Bush himself fanned the fires of Hayne’s NFL dream on a recent promotional trip to Australia during which the veteran running back showed supreme confidence in Hayne’s potential to break out in the NFL.

Still only 27 and yet to reach his athletic peak, Hayne has spent nine years primarily as a fullback for the Parramatta Eels in the land down under. Unlike the hulking, crash-and-bash style of its NFL namesake, a rugby league fullback is an integral component of a championship team, demanding the elusiveness of a punt returner, the patience of a running back and intelligence of a quarterback in one rare package.

Hayne has represented the NSW Blues on countless occasions in the State of Origin (think of it as the NRL’s Pro Bowl, except people actually care who wins) and worn the green and gold of Australia in a dozen international contests. The megastar is not only a two-time NRL MVP, but is also the current co-reigning MVP, making his sudden departure all the more surreal.

After a stagnant offseason in which Hayne’s contract continued to get pulled away courtesy of visa issues and other logistical nightmares, it seems the first rung of his NFL climb is within reach. For now, he has every Aussie NFL fan behind him. Things will start to get a little more interesting come training camp.

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