Jarryd Hayne is expecting the Fijian rugby sevens team to make a strong push for the nation’s first Olympic medal in Rio.
The San Francisco 49er, who represented Fiji in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup, appeared at a promotional event with the team in Sydney.
Hayne participated in a rendition of a Fijian hymn and was presented with a sevens jersey with his name on it and his NFL playing No.38.
The former Parramatta NRL flyer said the Pacific Island nation, which won last season’s world sevens series, should be considered among the favourites for the gold medal in Brazil.
“If they put themselves in the position, it’d be huge for them,” he said on Friday.
“The Fijian skillset really shows in sevens – flamboyant, the ball’s never dead.”
Fiji currently sits second on the 2015-16 world sevens ladder and will contest the Sydney Sevens beginning on Saturday.
Hayne has fond memories of his time playing for Fiji, describing the period as career-defining.
“I’ll always remember that. It’s definitely made me the person I am today,” he said.
“It was only four or five short weeks that could really impact someone’s life.”
Fiji coach Ben Ryan said Hayne’s appearance would be a boost to his side ahead of the Sydney tournament.
“These boys … are so proud of their fellow Fijians,” he said.
“To see him do so well in league and match it in the NFL, for them it’s an awesome start to the tournament.”