Jarryd Hayne says he would return to NFL if it had minor league

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Rugby star Jarryd Hayne told a newspaper in New Zealand that he'd return to the NFL it the league had a minor league system.

Hayne, who announced his retirement from the NFL in May, said he left the league because he couldn't get on the field enough to improve as a player.

"I need to be getting game time and you just can't get that over there [in the NFL] because of the way it works," Hayne told the New Zealand Herald.

"The offense is only on for a certain amount of time and then there's five other running backs," he said. "If there was a second division team where I could get those mental reps of being on the field, 100 percent I'd go back to the NFL."

When he retired, Hayne said he was doing so topursue a chance to compete with the Fiji Rugby Sevens in this summer's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He ultimately wasn't selected for the squad headed to the Olympic Games.

Since the NFL doesn't have a minor leagues, Hayne said he won't return to the league now that his Olympic pursuit is over.

"I'm at the end of my career where I really [have] just got to get on the field. I just want to be on the field. I've played eight games in two years," he told the newspaper.

"If I went back there to the NFL it'd be one of those things where I'd be a second- or third-string guy helping out but not really getting a lot of game time."

Hayne, 28, signed with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent in March 2015 after he gave up a lucrative rugby career in Australia to take a shot at the NFL.

Hayne made the roster out of training camp after a sensational preseason in which he averaged 7 yards per carry, rushing for 175 yards on 15 carries. He fumbled his first touch as the team's punt returner in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings and was waived by the 49ers in October, only to later re-sign with the team. He started at running back in the 49ers' 32-17 loss to the Lions on Dec. 27 and finished his only NFL season with 52 yards on 17 carries, 27 yards receiving on 6 catches and 76 yards on eight kick returns.