Cheika open to Hayne switch

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says he’d be happy to have Jarryd Hayne in rugby but the code switcher would have to come calling.

With the former NRL star announcing a switch to the Fiji Rugby Sevens to vie for an Olympic spot, Cheika said he has no doubt Hayne would be successful if he made the 15s switch.

If he makes the FIjian side, Hayne would be ineligible for the Wallabies but Cheika said he’d be able to make the move to Super Rugby.

“I’d be lying if I said, 'Oh no (we don't want him),' and tried to play it cool,” he said.

“Of course he’d go well,  playing Super Rugby. You’ve seen his form in rugby league beforehand, seen what Israel’s done in rugby as well.”

While Cheika rates Hayne’s potential, he won’t be the one picking up the phone to bring the former Parramatta Eels star to rugby.

“We’re going more on a strategy of players that want to come and play rugby,” he said.

“I just think that’s where the success is.

“A player will always succeed when he wants to make the change and come over and play.

“We’re not going to chase them and try and force them or try and change their mind.”

After dominating the NRL and playing for the San Francisco 49ers against the odds, Cheika said it was clear Hayne would be able to make an impact wherever he went.

“I’ve only met Jarryd a couple of times. Obviously he knows what the game’s about, knows what league’s about, he’s connected with the Sevens as well,” he said.

“He’s a smart guy, he's obviously an achiever so he’ll succeed in whatever he decides and that choice is totally up to him.”

ARU CEO Bill Pulver said he would also be receptive to the idea of having Jarryd Hayne in Super Rugby.

“It’s interesting news him joining the Fijian squad at such a late stage,” he said.

“He’s an incredible athlete and I think it’s only good for rugby to have him part of our game.

“He would be absolutely welcome in Australia. He’s a truly elite international athlete so we’d love to have him.”

The Fiji Sevens name their 12-man team for the London Sevens on Friday, in Hayne’s only chance to impress on the World Series circuit before the Olympics.