Parramatta icon Nathan Hindmarsh says the NRL’s war chest would be better spent on development than on luring Jarryd Hayne back to the game.
Former Eels superstar Hayne rocked the sporting community on Monday when he announced he was quitting the NFL in the US in a bid to play rugby sevens for Fiji at the Rio Olympics in August.
Speculation about his long-term future is now in overdrive, including a fairytale return to rugby league.
ARLC chairman John Grant indicated as recently as March that an athlete of Hayne’s calibre would be the perfect candidate to use the governing body’s much-hyped discretionary fund on, bringing him back to the NRL.
However Hindmarsh, the Eels most capped player, was not keen to allocate so much money to one player.
“I’d like to see it spent on something else, because we’re always going to develop superstars,” Hindmarsh told AAP.
“Haynsey’s been out of the game – and he’s a superstar – but we did it without him.
“The game continued, and we unearthed Semi Radradra. James Tedesco’s been brilliant.
“We’re finding new talent every year, new superstars.
“So to go using a war chest to bring back players – I’m not going to say, been forgotten about – but I think money can be spent elsewhere.”
Hindmarsh, who played alongside Hayne through his first nine seasons at the Eels until Hayne left for for the San Francisco 49ers in 2014, warned Eels fans not to get too excited about the mercurial talent returning.
“Haynsey never made mention too much of returning to the NRL, so I don’t think there’s any reason to get too excited just yet,” he said.
“But I think we’re a little step closer to getting him back now that the NFL dream’s finished. And obviously rugby union’s a lot closer to getting back to rugby league.
“We’ll never say never, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
“It’d be nice to see him back in the blue and gold, but whether or not that happens, we’ll have to wait and see.
“If he ends up playing rugby league, that’s a bonus for the game.”
South Sydney skipper Greg Inglis was one of many in league on Monday who would welcome the 28-year-old Hayne back with open arms.
“There is no doubt he is a great talent, our game is about showcasing great talent, so in the future I would like to see him back in the NRL,” Inglis said.
Hayne’s manager Wayne Beavis indicated a return to the NRL was a possibility.
It is likely bidding war will now begin involving NRL clubs and possibly rugby union sides in Australia and Europe.
“We haven’t had a chance to talk about plan B but I’m sure there will be no lack of opportunities for him should he come back to Australia and want to play rugby league again or rugby union,” Beavis told Triple M.
Hayne said in February, Parramatta would be the only club he would join if he was to make a return to the NRL, however that hasn’t dampened speculation linking him to Sydney Roosters.
The Roosters lost a number of key players ahead of this season and are said to be $600,000 under the salary cap for 2016. That is money that could be used as a sign-on fee for a player such as Hayne.
However Roosters boss John Lee wouldn’t buy into any hype surrounding Hayne.
“The Roosters will not comment on media speculation,” Lee told AAP.