Aquis Gold Coast Titans fullback Jarryd Hayne knows all too well what internationals Jason Taumalolo and Valentine Holmes are feeling right now.
Taumalolo, the Dally M-winning forward for North Queensland, and Holmes, a fullback/winger for Cronulla, will be returning to Australia on Monday after flying to Los Angeles to explore their NFL prospects before America’s best scouts.
Taumalolo and Holmes will honour their respective deals, but revealed the 2017 campaign could be their final year in rugby league if NFL scouts make a formal offer.
Hayne, who made worldwide headlines when he quit the NRL to pursue his own career in the NFL in 2014, said he learnt enough about the game while he was there to know the difference between success and failure and he sees one clear advantage for Taumalolo and Holmes that he didn’t enjoy in his transition.
When Hayne rolled the dice and took up a practice squad contract with the 49ers he was already 26 and had to learn a new game from scratch at an age when most NFL players have already had a four-year college career and then established themselves at the professional level.
Holmes, 21, and Taumalolo, 23, are several years younger and according to Hayne that could make all the difference to their prospects.
“It’s good to see them really step out. They’ve definitely got age on their side,” Hayne told reporters at Titans training at the TFH High Performance Centre on the Gold Coast on Tuesday.
“Being 21, most guys come out of the draft 22, 23, so they’ve definitely got a lot of years under their belt if they want to pursue it.
“I had my pro day when I was 26, so I think Valentine is five years younger than me and Taumalolo’s about three years younger, so age is a good thing for them.
“The playbook is probably the hardest thing, not so much the skill and the talent because they’ve got that. They’re keen to do it and I wish them all the best.”
Hayne said it was only natural that stars of the Australian sporting landscape were looking further afield to take on a bigger challenge.
“In Australia you always want to test yourself, and I think you always want to ask the question,” Hayne said.
“From my point of view it’s just about supporting them and see people step out of their comfort zone. My support is fully behind them.”