Forget being underdone, Jarryd Hayne will return to rugby league faster, stronger and smarter, says Australian NFL trailblazer Colin Scotts.
“He’ll kill it, no doubt,” Scotts told AAP on Wednesday.
Scotts is “disappointed 100 per cent” Hayne didn’t opt to stay in the code after playing for the San Francisco 49ers in 2015.
But both he and Wallaby Israel Folau, another renowned code hopper who turned down Parramatta, had no doubt Hayne would make a successful transition back to rugby league with Gold Coast following his dalliance in American football.
“He’ll be faster and stronger and smarter,” said Scotts, who became only the second Australian NFL player when he turned out for the St Louis Cardinals in 1987.
“He’s back in his comfort zone. He he had a crack (at the NFL) and he made it and he exceeded all expectations, so good on him.”
Hayne also dabbled in sevens rugby after leaving the NFL but failed to crack Fiji’s Olympic side.
But Folau, who played a rugby league Test alongside Hayne in 2007, was confident the gifted athlete would make a smooth return to the 13-man code.
“He’ll slot back in and obviously it’s what he’s used to,” Folau said.
“I’m sure he’s got itchy feet. The last couple of years he’s only played a few games so I’m sure he can’t wait to get out there and put the boots on and just run around.”
Folau believes Hayne the entertainer will revel in his return to the NRL spotlight.
“Obviously he’s missed that a lot in the last couple of years so I’m sure he’ll try to get his hands on the ball again and have some fun,” he said.
The Titans stealing Hayne from under Parramatta’s noses comes four years after the Eels lost out on Folau in similar circumstances when the former Melbourne, Brisbane, Queensland and Australian representative joined the NSW Waratahs at the last minute instead.
“It was different circumstances for the both of us,” Folau said.
“Everyone probably would have expected Jarryd to go straight back to Parra but he obviously had different reasons.”