Seahawks Insider Blog

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Pete Carroll answers queries about Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne's visit to Seahawks

An superstar in Australian rugby -- not the fact the Seahawks have begun the defense of their Super Bowl title at 3-2, or that Marshawn Lynch had seven fewer carries last weekend than Cam Newton -- was what coach Pete Carroll was talking about most at the start of his weekly Wednesday press conference this afternoon.

Carroll mentioned "it looks like it's going to be a while," probably weeks, before middle linebacker Bobby Wagner returns from his turf toe injury sustained last weekend in the loss to Dallas, though the coach said Wagner does not need surgery. It sounds like K.J. Wright will move from outside to middle linebacker and Malcolm Smith and Bruce Irvin will be the outside linebackers Sunday when Seattle plays at St. Louis (1-4). The also coach said two-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger (sprained foot) and starting tight end Zach Miller (ankle surgery three weeks ago) will miss their second and third consecutive games, respectively, on Sunday, and that cornerback Byron Maxwell is day to day with a strained calf and has a chance to play against the Rams.

But it was Australian Jarryd Hayne who captured the most intrigue of the afternoon here at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton.

The 26-year-old star of Australia's professional rugby league visited Seahawks headquarters last month during a trip to Seattle. Hayne posted Instagram photos of his visit.

He then attended the Seahawks' game last month against Denver at CenturyLink Field, sitting in the stands.

OK, folks visit the Seahawks at the VMAC all the time -- though not many world-class athletes who can run and is 6 feet 2, 220 pounds in their physical prime.

But what gave this story traction and literally international intrigue was Hayne holding a press conference in Australia today to announce he was retiring from his million-dollar-a-year Australian National Rugby League's Parramatta Eels fullback to pursue a career in, you guessed it, the NFL.

Here's a video highlight package of Hayne speeding through and past foes throughout Rugby League football in Australia.

This is such a story there that Michael Best, a Los Angeles-based reporter with Channel 9 television in Australia, had a crew here in Renton today asking Carroll and about anyone else with a voice about whether they thought Hayne could make it in the NFL -- or with the Seahawks.

"Well, our scout Down Under has been on this for quite some time," Carroll joked.

"He's quite an athlete and quite a competitor. That's the stuff we like. We'll see where it goes," Carroll said.

"I'm afraid to mention anything because I don't know what the contract issues are down there. We'll leave that up to John (Schneider)."

Carroll was fighting hard to keep his face straight with that last reference to Seahawks general manager John Schneider. In fact, Carroll didn't even meet Hayne when he was here.

"As soon as we are free and I know what the rulings are, I'll give you some scoop on it, OK?" Carroll said, still smirking.

"It's pretty exciting thought, anyway. It's an exciting thought. Thought it would be really cool to recruit down there and all that, because there are some great players there and it's a great game. And it's a physical, demanding game. Those guys have all the same kind of stuff that we are looking for in our guys."

The Seahawks have a native Australian on their injured-reserve list: Jesse Williams. Williams was born in the Queensland state of Australia who grew up playing rugby and didn't begin playing football until he was 14. He became a starting defensive tackle on Alabama's national-championship football teams in 2011 and '12.

Much of what Carroll was saying about Hayne today was in good fun, and he and the team surely don't mind the international attention of Hayne's "visit." But the reason Hayne was in Seattle last month wasn't specifically to visit the Seahawks. He also visited University of Washington coach Chris Petersen and his Huskies and attended a UW home game that weekend.

More than that contacts of mine with the Associated Press here and in Sydney, Australia, say Hayne is friends with Waisale Serevi, the 46-year-old former Fijian rugby superstar and coach who his considered to be one the greatest players ever in the sport of rugby sevens. Serevi lives in Seattle after starting in 2010 the Serevi Rugby program here, a self-described "platform to grow the game in North America and beyond." Serevi's father, Manoa Thompson, is a former professional rugby player who represented Fiji.

Hayne was visiting Serevi last month in Seattle ahead of his Parramatta team's schedule visit here, a visit Hayne was going to be unable to make because of commitments with the Australia national rugby team.

Now those commitments are off. His pursuit of an NFL career is on.

We'll see how much the Seahawks become part of Hayne's pursuit. For now, this is a potentially intriguing, potentially developmental idea for the future.

As Carroll said, it's would be an extremely rare guy who could come right in, middle of a season, and pick up any aspect of American football playing it for the first time to be able to contribute at the NFL level.

To hear folks in Australia tell it, Jarryd Hayne is that rare.

  Comments