Jarryd Hayne carries himself really well. The Australian former NRL star who appeared in eight NFL games for the San Francisco 49ers this season was in Sydney on Monday morning at a Super Bowl function.
The function at The Star's 24/7 Sports Bar was all about the Super Bowl. But really, it was all about Jarryd Hayne. In a sports bar absolutely packed with jersey-wearing Australian NRL fans, everyone wanted a piece of Hayne. And he duly gave everyone their piece. A trip to the bathroom for a quick freshen-up between radio commitments and a live Q and A took about 15 minutes, as Hayne let everyone have their selfies.
There's a calm asuredness about Hayne which is vastly different from the nervous, shy teenager this reporter first met back in the mid-to-late 2000s. Call it maturity.You might also call it part of the plan. The 49ers have a new coach for season 2016/17. Hayne knows that in US sports you have to impress with who you are as much as how you play. Jarryud Hayne the man is also Jarryd Hayne the brand now. He's got the clothing line and all.
Here's our pick of Hayne's comments from this morning's event.
He really, REALLY wants to score a touchdown next year
"That's the plan. I got close twice this year. I was devastated. There was actually a route that I ran that if I'd played a bit different I would have scored against Detroit. So I came close and obviously that one against the New York Giants as well, so definitely next year. IT HAS TO BE DONE."
And if he actually scores one?
"I don't know, I might jump up and celebrate, I might do the Hayne Plane, I might cry."
He was in Disneyland for two days, and we're not talking about the theme park
"I got hit twice head-on, and my head was rattling for a couple of days. Your neck has to get a lot stronger. it's like putting a helmet on and running into a brick wall, so if you can do that, then you can make it in the NFL."
(And interestingly, his neck looks a LOT broader these days than it used to.)
Yet despite the bone-jarring hits, Hayne admits that learning the game was much harder than the physical side of things.
"I had to get the coach's faith in me, that twas the biggest thing going to another game. I had to really impress. Understanding the game was hard. You can train as much as you want but the game is completely different.."
As ever, his faith saw him through
"My faith is what gave me the strength to be able to withstand all the hard times over there. I think for me it was about keeping my faith and keeping headstrong and no matter what happens, just keep positive and keep upbeat and keep dong my best."
He thinks Carolina will win today's Super Bowl and that Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is better than his Super Bowl counterpart, Peyton Manning
"I’m rooting for the Panthers, hopefully they can get it done. I think it’ll be 17-3 Carolina. I think Cam Newton has the edge. He can do anything, he can run, he can do any throw, he can make things up as he goes along."
He still has those little OMG moments
"It's a bit of a dream. Sometimes you just look around the field and go, s***, I'm in the NFL, it's really happening."
If he could play for any other team it would be the Dallas Cowboys
"I love Texas and I grew up going for the team." (An interesting sign of Hayne's maturity at this point came when the interviewer said "because of the cheerleaders?", a tacky question Hayne smoothly ducked.
Ah, so that's why he wears 38
"When I was 17 years old and playing for Parramatta they gave me the number 38. So the 49ers gave me two numbers, 30 or 38. I picked 38 because it means so much to me."
And lastly, it's worth mentioning that two of the first three questions from the audience asked Hayne whether he'd return to the Parramatta Eels. Seems some diehard NRL fans still just can't embrace this new chapter of Hayne's life. Which is a shame, but as Hayne said:
"I’m still the same person. I have the same friends... But I think it's important in life to get out of your comfort zone."