Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Jarryd Hayne is living a fairytale says his US agent, Jack Bechta -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

SABRA LANE, PRESENTER: He's the Aussie star trying to make it big in America. NRL sensation Jarryd Hayne will soon find out if he's earned a spot with the San Francisco 49ers. The former rugby league champion has risked everything. He abandoned his NRL career to chase his dream of playing gridiron. This weekend, the 49ers' final team numbers will be whittled down from 75 to 53, and by all accounts, Jarryd Hayne has been a standout in the NFL preseason, but it's no guarantee he'll make the final cut. I spoke with his US agent, Jack Bechta, earlier today from the States.

Jack Bechta, thank you very much for talking to 7.30. The San Francisco 49ers make their final cut on Sunday morning, Australian time. How confident are you that Jarryd Hayne will make the cut?

JACK BECHTA, NFL ADVISOR & SPORTS AGENT: Well, I'm very confident because he's my client of course and there's a reason I wanted to represent Jarryd, very badly actually; I believe in him. However, I kind of like to tap the brakes on him making the team. And what I don't think a lot of Australian fans understand is how complicated it is for an NFL team to construct a roster. We have to go from 75 players down to 53, OK? Jarryd's playing running back and return specialist. He's got competition at different positions, at both positions. So, it's not a lay-up for him to be guaranteed a spot. You know, in the practices that we don't get to see that show the coach that he belongs, he's doing a great job of that, but my job as his agent is to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

SABRA LANE: Jarryd's played, as you've mentioned, in the preseason games. What's his performance been like?

JACK BECHTA: It's been nothing short of stellar. I think what he has done, he's proven, a.) he belongs, b.) that he's further along than people had realised and, you know, that he has a basic understanding of the game, a basic understanding, but more importantly, he has the athletic skill set to compete against the American football players.

SABRA LANE: And the 49ers fans, how have they taken to Jarryd?

JACK BECHTA: Oh, they love it. Everybody loves the underdog, right?, and he's the underdog story of the year.

SABRA LANE: Jarryd's given up a lot here. He left the NRL at the peak of his career. He was best player twice. He's risked all of that for his dream. How common is it for someone in another code to make it big in the NFL?

JACK BECHTA: The best athletes in the United States are probably our NBA basketball players. They're amazing. Many of them could come over and play in the NFL. But the contracts aren't guaranteed, there's high risk of injury, higher than any sport here in the US. So there's a lot more downside than there is upside. The average career span of an NFL player is only three and a half, four years at the very, very most. So, you have to have a lot of luck in playing in the NFL. And I think that's what makes Jarryd Hayne very unique, that he accomplished a lot in one sport and gave it up at, like you said, the pinnacle, Sabra, and risk it all 'cause he could have failed and fell on his face or got hurt. There's a lot of things that could potentially still go wrong. He's giving up a lot both personally, financially, but that's what makes Jarryd Hayne very unique. He doesn't care. It's all about what is going inside his heart, his soul, his mind. He's - he has a vision quest. He has a deep, dark passion to challenge himself.

SABRA LANE: He's trying his hand at running back, a position where you need to know all those secret codes that the coach knows. How's he managed to get his head around all of that?

JACK BECHTA: Well, I wasn't there every day, but I think Jarryd, when he gets a chance to tell his story, I think he'll intimate that that was one of the hardest parts, learning the playbook. And that's for any rookie, for any player. I don't care what university you come out of, what program you went, the NFL moves very, very fast, the playbooks are this thick (holds thumb and forefinger up to indicate thickness) - they look like telephone books and there's a lot to comprehend at a very quick speed, but obviously Jarryd's doing a pretty good job of it.

SABRA LANE: Top NRL players here make about a million dollars. What are Hayne's potential earnings if he makes it big in the NFL there?

JACK BECHTA: Well, I probably won't get into that. That's highly personal and, like I said, there are some restrictions on players in their first three years in the NFL. You come in basically as a rookie, so he's coming in under the same contract rules that are set up by our collective bargaining agreement that any player in their first three years would have to still go against. And actually, NFL agents are restricted from talking about players' salaries publicly, so I've got to stop you right there.

SABRA LANE: A few Aussie rules players have made the transition to the NFL. Do you think your code could benefit from more players like Jarryd and have you got your eyes on any other players?

JACK BECHTA: Yeah, I'm gonna start paying a lot more attention. My focus right now is helping Jarryd on and off the field, making sure he's secure. I have looked at some other players and the skill set of them and their athletic ability. I'm not - I don't think there's hundreds or thousands that could come over and make the transition. You know, Jarryd has a passion for football - that's what separates him from I think most people. He just didn't want to go from one sport to another; he really had a passion for NFL football and really liked the game before he even admitted it to anyone. So, I think that there's probably a handful of gentlemen who could probably make the transition, but I'd really have to look at the whole landscape before I start putting any numbers up on the board.

SABRA LANE: And it's a fairytale story, isn't it?

JACK BECHTA: It is. It's a one-in-a-million fairytale, I believe. You don't see people giving up a secure lifestyle, career to risk it all, to fulfil a dream nobody even knew you had. So, it's really interesting to watch this unfold and I'm really excited to be a part of it.

SABRA LANE: Jack Bechta, thank you very much for talking to 7.30.

JACK BECHTA: Thank you, Sabra.