NRL's Hayne aims to fulfill NFL dream

Australian superstar Jarryd Hayne sensationally quit his Rugby League team on Wednesday in order to pursue a career in the NFL.

The Australian international, who won the National Rugby League's highest individual accolade -- The Dally M Medal -- for a second time just last month, has been given a conditional release by his club, the Parramatta Eels, in order to follow his NFL dream.

Hayne, 27, said he could not let the opportunity to play in the NFL pass him by.

"For the past 24 months I've been thinking about having a crack in the NFL, and over the last 12 months I've been seriously considering it," Hayne said in a letter published on the Eels website.

"Today I can officially announce that I will be heading to the United States to pursue an opportunity to play American Football."

Most Australians to try their hands in the NFL have been punters, but as a speedy rugby league player it's likely the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Hayne has a different position in mind.

In June, Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush told Fox Sports Australia that Hayne could play in the NFL immediately if he ever switched sports.

"He actually looks like an NFL running back. Looks like he could come play with us tomorrow," Bush said when shown video of Hayne in action. "He's fast, strong and... wow! Look at that hit. That's an NFL football hit. I like this guy."

Hayne walked away from one of the highest paying rugby league contracts in the world. He visited the United States in September to look at the Seattle Seahawks' facilities on a study trip with the Eels.

Australian native Jesse Williams is currently on the Seahawks' injured reserve, though the defensive tackle first played college football at Alabama.

"It's always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, and at my age, this is my one and only chance at having a crack at playing there.

"I'm excited about the potential opportunities that lie ahead. I've known the deadline has been looming for me to make this call, and I believe the right time is now.

"I'm so passionate about the challenge that lies ahead for me, not only as an athlete but more so as a person. It's the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life. I'm leaving my teammates, friends, and most importantly my family; but for me to grow as an athlete and a person I feel this is the right step to take."

ESPN FC's Mike Wise contributed to this report.

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