San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne is stepping away from football to join the Fijian national rugby team for the Olympics, the team announced Sunday.
The move brings to an end the short NFL career of the former Australian rugby star. Hayne, 28, famously turned down a contract worth about $2 million annually in Australian money to join the NFL at the minimum of $435,000.
“I am retiring from the NFL because the Fiji Rugby Sevens team reached out to me about the opportunity to join the team for the upcoming Olympics, and I simply could not pass that chance up,” Hayne said, “The Olympics has been something I have admired since I was a little boy, and it is an opportunity I feel very similar to me joining the NFL.”
Hayne surprised many by making San Francisco’s 53-man roster for the 2015 season. He ended up recording 52 rushing yards and 27 receiving yards.
“The past 12 months with the San Francisco 49ers have been absolutely incredible,” He said. “I could not have predicted how far I have come as an NFL player. To not only be able to play in a game but also say that I started a game in the NFL is something that I will remember for a lifetime.”
Raised in Australia by a Fijian father and Australian mother, Hayne will being competing in rugby sevens in the Olympics.