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Hayne likens US run to Fiji fairytale

He's lived his own unlikely World Cup fairytale, so Jarryd Hayne knows exactly what lining up against the Kangaroos on Saturday will mean to members of the US rugby league team.
Hayne likens US run to Fiji fairytale
by AAP

By Liam FitzGibbon

MANCHESTER, England, Nov 12 AAP - He's lived his own unlikely World Cup fairytale, so Jarryd Hayne knows exactly what lining up against the Kangaroos on Saturday will mean to members of the US rugby league team.

The Australian winger helped Fiji to the semi-finals at the 2008 tournament and can see parallels between that feat and the Tomahawks' remarkable run to this year's quarter-finals.

Hayne also saw first-hand the effects Fiji's success had on the game's growth domestically and he's hoping similar benefits will come of the US' performance.

The Tomahawks, led by NRL players Joseph Paulo and Clint Newton, were 500-1 outsiders before the tournament but have defied all odds to reach the last eight.

They beat Cook Islands and Wales in their first two games, despite playing three pool matches in nine days and Terry Matterson not even knowing all of his players' names after answering a late SOS call to coach the side.

The Americans are also the only side at the tournament not being paid to play but Hayne said they were driven by a "special bond" and passion for the game.

"There are blokes who have sacrificed a lot just to be here, just for the passion of the game and to see the game grow in America ... which is a lot like Fiji in a way," Hayne said.

"It's huge. I've got no doubt they (US players) are going to be mates for a very long time.

"To go through what they have been through is obviously no easy feat and to do what they have done."

Hayne recalled seeing the impact of Fiji's performance in 2008.

"I will never forget going to Fiji before the World Cup and, walking down the street, no-one knew us," he said.

"I remember getting back there, we had close to a 1000 people at the airport waiting for us.

"We had a street parade in Suva. We had to get into a taxi to travel about 200 or 300 metres because we were just getting mobbed.

"It was huge and hopefully it has the same impact over in America."

While fans are unlikely to be lining the streets of New York to celebrate the Tomahawks' success, the team is making small but significant strides.

The Cinderella story has gained plenty of press in the UK and even a mention in the New York Times, with hopes it will spark a boost in interest and participation rates in the US.

"This is just the start for them," Hayne said.

Hayne's hopes of facing the Tomahawks in Wrexham hinge on him ousting either winger Brett Morris or centre Brent Tate in Tim Sheens' first-choice team.


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