Waratahs won’t offer Jarryd Hayne contract despite ARU interest
Jarryd Hayne will have to look outside of Sydney if he wants to play Super Rugby in 2017 after the Waratahs confirmed on Tuesday that they will not table an offer for the cross-code superstar.
Foxsports.com.au can reveal that after much consideration, the Waratahs have decided “quick fix” Hayne doesn’t fit with the club’s current direction.
The decision to shoulder arms comes less than a week after Hayne was snapped leaving his second meeting with Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver.
Pulver revealed Hayne had approached the ARU to discuss his career options after the former league and NFL star was overlooked for Fiji’s Olympic sevens squad.
Waratahs chief executive Andrew Hore described the decision as a “watershed” moment in the club’s history.
It will also surprise many, given Hayne is one of Australia’s most marketable athletes and would undoubtedly boost sagging Super Rugby crowds.
“We’re not going to pursue Jarryd at this present point in time, and I think it’s a bit of a watershed moment for the organisation,” Hore said.
“We feel with the fact that we’ve combined both NSW and Waratahs rugby that our first priority has got to be making NSW a great rugby state again and that’s got to be our primary focus.
“Now, is a quick fix going to do that?
“We don’t think it is.
“We think the issues in our game are that broad and deep that we want to focus on resolving those, and when you’ve already got 10-plus Wallabies — plus Israel Folau in our team — we feel that there’s enough star-power there at this stage.
“Maybe it’s about utilising their skillset more, while at the same time increasing investment into the things that are going to make us a great rugby state once again.”
It is understood Hayne wants to live in Sydney and his flirtation with Fiji means he is not eligible to play for the Wallabies and have his contract boosted by the ARU.
As a result, the Waratahs would have to dig deep into their pockets to table a competitive offer as NRL clubs circle.
Hore, a New Zealander who took the reins of the Waratahs in April, has other priorities after a season in which NSW missed out on the finals with a 8-7 record.
“We believe we’ve got to focus more on those others areas of the game: youth development, infrastructure and building the game of rugby union for all shapes and sizes,” Hore said.
“Now, there’s no doubt that if there was unlimited resources, that a player like Jarryd Hayne may have been of real benefit.
“But right now we have a new and exciting young group of players, (and) combined with the needs of our game to put it back on an even keel, talking to Jarryd probably at the moment isn’t the right thing for us as a sport.
“First and foremost we’ve got to continue to look at how we grow our own.
“We’ve got a new and exciting leadership group in our team, and a lot of new players coming in next year, so it’s really important that we ensure that we grow and invest in an environment which helps them excel, and sometimes if you redirect that financial resource it means you can’t do that.”
On Thursday, Pulver told Fox Sports that it would be “terrific” to have Hayne in Australian rugby and that the code had put together a “pretty compelling offer” for him.
Hore stressed the importance of the ARU and Super Rugby provinces remaining unified as cashed-up European and Japanese clubs come knocking.
“I think Rob Clarke (ARU chief operating officer), Bill and myself work pretty well, and long may that continue because the enemies aren’t from within, with regard to Australian rugby, the enemy are actually the global issues that are happening,” Hore said.
“Fighting among ourselves is not going to take us anywhere.
“This is not an anti-ARU thing, this is not an anti-Jarryd Hayne thing, this is ‘right, we actually need to roll our sleeves up and grow rugby,’ and we’ve got some tough times coming.”
After last year’s World Cup, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, James Horwill and Sekope Kepu left Australia to play in France and England.
While Cooper and Kepu have returned, the exodus continues with Kurtley Beale, Dave Dennis, Matt Toomua, Liam Gill, Mike Harris and Joe Tomane all Europe-bound.
Hore, who joined the Waratahs from Welsh club Ospreys, knows the financial threat only too well.
On Monday, England’s Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby Limited signed a new £225 million, eight-year deal which is expected to put further pressure on Super Rugby franchises to retain their players.
“All of those kind of issues means that our problems are more based in getting our competition structure to one that people want to come and watch,” Hore said.
“And the ability to generate and invest into our junior programs and to continue to grow those — which with fairness to the ARU they have done — is vitally important.
“So we’ve got to stand back and be professional and say right: ‘quick fix is not the solution.’
“The game generally across the world has some real issues and we need to sit down, identify them, prioritise how we’re going to go about fixing them and sort some stuff out and that starts with us.
“We can’t keep bringing each other down, sooner or later as a sport we’ve got to band together.
“And we actually need people coming to the ground, we need them investing in rugby in whatever shape or form.
“Whether it’s buying a pie at the ground right through to multinational investment, they need to see that we are a professional sport getting its act together from cradle to the grave.
“That’s what we need to focus on.”