Rise and fall of NRL superstar Jarryd Hayne

Jarryd Hayne was the biggest star in Australian sport when he returned from America in 2016.

The 33-year-old’s NFL career amounted to eight games and just 76 yards, but his brave move to quit rugby league in 2015 just months after being crowned the best player in the league for a second time captivated the country.

His popularity sparked an ambitious move into his own sporting apparel brand that ultimately failed.

His next code-hop to win a spot on the Fiji Rugby 7’s Olympics squad ahead of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro also fell flat — but the interest in his rollercoaster ride continued to make him a national figure bigger than the usual state divide separating AFL and NRL heartlands.

He then went on to sign what was at the time the richest contract ever seen in the NRL, when he returned to the Gold Coast Titans in 2016 on a two-year contract worth up to $2.4 million.

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First he was the Hayne Train, an unstoppable juggernaut in 2009. Then he became the Hayne Plane in 2014 with his iconic wingspan try celebrations during a run of six straight best-on-ground performances.

Jarryd Hayne returned a superstar, despite failing to lock up a second season with the 49ers.Source:Getty Images

He was expected to cash in on his red-hot 2014 NRL season with an even richer deal, before he left the league with a year to run on his contract to take up a development deal with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL, a contract reportedly worth $2.1 million over three years as a free agent deal that the team would be able to cut at any time.

The rivers of gold all dried up, however, in 2018 when he was forced to walk away from rugby league following allegations of sexual assault filed in a 2017 lawsuit in the United States.

Hayne’s civil rape lawsuit was settled in 2019.

Hayne denied accusations of sexually assaulting the woman at his apartment in California in 2015 after meeting her at a bar while he was playing for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.

The US District Court announced that the lawsuit had been “voluntarily dismissed” following a private settlement.

He never played football professionally again.

His settlement of the civil suit was followed last year with fresh charges in Australia — two counts of aggravated sexual assault causing actual bodily harm.

NSW police alleged Hayne had sex with a woman without her consent in Newcastle on NRL grand final night in 2018.

His first trial in December 2020 resulted in a hung jury.

The NRL superstar was found guilty on Monday of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent after three days of jury deliberation following a seven-day trial at Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court.


Jarryd Hayne and his wife Amellia Bonnici.Source:Matrix

Jarryd Hayne and wife Amellia Bonnici have been through enough to push any marriage to breaking point, after a turbulent start to their relationship and a period of living apart.

But the relationship will face its greatest test on May 6 in Newcastle District Court when Hayne faces sentencing.

Hayne and Bonnici met in 2016 after he returned from a stint in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers to play in the NRL again with the Titans, and she quickly fell pregnant.

Hayne immediately moved Bonnici to his Gold Coast residence, but the couple ultimately ended up living apart when she returned to Sydney before Hayne made a desperate move to return to the Parramatta Eels for the 2018 NRL season, motivated by his desire to be near Bonnici and their first child, daughter Beliviah Ivy, born in 2017.

They celebrated their engagement on Boxing Day.

Their whirlwind engagement lasted just four weeks before the couple announced their marriage during a glamorous ceremony on January 26, just 55 days ago.

The pair were married in secret, but the news of their nuptials leaked soon after the couple’s first kiss during their January wedding at the Pullman Magenta Shores resort on the Central Coast of NSW, in front of just 50 guests.

Hayne’s mum Jodie Hayne is reported to have attended the event and she has been a constant figure of support for her son throughout his career.

The former Eels fullback grew up in a Minto housing commission with his single mum, who was separated from his father, former Auckland Warriors centre Manoa Thompson.

She has twice been the reason Hayne has broken down in tears when speaking publicly.

Jodie raised Hayne and his two sisters by herself.

Hayne has repeatedly said his primary goal in professional sport was to one day buy his mum a house.

He achieved it in 2014 while announcing his move to the NFL.

“I was probably about to become the highest paid player in rugby league but I’m a kid from Minto,” Hayne said as he broke down, wiping away tears.

“My whole dream of being a professional athlete was to buy my mum a house and I did that.”

After accepting the 2009 Dally M medal as the player of the year, Hayne also credited his mum as being “his rock”.

“I feel like crying,” an emotional Hayne said at the time.

“This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

“My mum, my rock, the Fijian World Cup team – if I’m not in that team I’m not here.”


Jarryd Hayne was unstoppable in his prime.Source:Supplied

Hayne famously credited his time with the Fiji rugby league team in 2008 as the reason his career got back on track.

The deeply spiritual and alcohol-free culture was the exact opposite of what he reportedly found when he was with the 49ers.

The devout Christian became a regular attendee at the Hillsong mega-church in western Sydney. His move to the United States left him in two very different worlds.

The notoriously hard-drinking, troubled heart of the San Francisco team marked the start of a bitter decline in luck for the star. He left the Niners, couldn’t win a spot on the Fiji team and struggled to recapture his best form during two seasons with the Titans.

Around this time, he met Bonnici, reportedly on Instagram, and the pair started dating. Hayne, then playing for the Gold Coast Titans, was shocked when the 25-year-old announced not long after they met that she was pregnant and expecting his child by the end of the year.

He moved her into his Gold Coast apartment and their daughter, Beliviah Ivy, was born in December 2016.

The following November, Hayne confirmed he would leave the Titans and return to Sydney after Fiji’s World Cup exit on compassionate grounds, to be closer to his girlfriend and child, who were now living in Forster near family.

He reportedly took a hefty pay cut to return to his old club, Parramatta, hoping to get his head down and rebuild his reputation.


Jarryd Hayne hasn’t played since 2018.Source:News Corp Australia

Hayne hasn’t played in the NRL since 2018.

After the NSW Sex Crimes Squad’s investigation into the incident first became public, Hayne took a holiday to the Middle East with Parramatta teammates Tim Mannah and Michael Jennings.

He handed himself in at Ryde Police Station in Sydney after returning to Australia and was charged by police before being released on strict bail conditions.

He was allowed to travel to Western Australia in mid-2019, to attend a six-month missionary course at the Youth With A Mission centre.

Hayne stayed in a dormitory-style accommodation near the evangelical Christian centre’s training campus with other men and was required to attend lectures and not drink alcohol.

He returned briefly to Newcastle in July that year to formally enter a plea of not guilty and spoke to media for the first time as he exited court.

“I want to make it very clear, I’m innocent of these charges,” Hayne said. “It’s been a very hard time for my family … but justice will be served.”

After moving back to NSW from Perth late last year Hayne has been spotted occasionally playing basketball in Marrickville in Sydney’s inner-west and working out with former Eels teammates in Merrylands.

He’s also provided sporadic commentary on sports via his Twitter page, including The Last Dance documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, the NFL and his beloved Eels.

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