NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24: Jarryd Hayne of the Eels runs the ball during the NRL Trial Match between the Newcastle Knights and the Parramatta Eels at Maitland No 1 Showground on February 24, 2018 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)
NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24: Jarryd Hayne of the Eels runs the ball during the NRL Trial Match between the Newcastle Knights and the Parramatta Eels at Maitland No 1 Showground on February 24, 2018 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

Set for takeoff: Hayne returns to sporting arena

Former rugby league star Jarryd Hayne will line up against some of the fastest men in Australia as he returns to the sporting arena for the first time since leaving the Eels in 2018.

Hayne has agreed to compete against the likes of Josh Addo-Carr, Bronson Xerri, Damien Cook and Joey Manu in a cross-code challenge hosted by sprint king Roger Fabri.

Fabri said he was excited to see how Hayne would go after a few years away from professional sport.

"I want to see what I can do with Hayne again after three weeks," Fabri said.

"He is always up for it … I want to give him a chance to work his way back (to full fitness)."

Hayne's rape trial has been delayed because he wants a jury to decide his fate. It was due to start next month and would have proceeded if it was judge-only. Hayne has pleaded not guilty.

Other NRL players who have committed to Fabri's three-week challenge include Kyle Flanagan and Zac Lomax.

 

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Hayne will join the sprint challenge. Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images.
Hayne will join the sprint challenge. Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images.

Brumbies player Tom Wright and Sydney FC speedster Jordi Swibel will also ­compete. They will be joined by some Australian rugby ­sevens players while Fabri is hopeful cricketer David Warner will compete.

The group will receive one-on-one coaching from Tuesday with the first race between Addo-Carr and Xerri to occur 10 days later. The outside backs have already spent the past few weeks training with Fabri.

"This race will be an appetiser," Fabri said. "It will be ­interesting. On the back of a one-off effort, I think Addo-Carr will win but it's no certainty. When it comes to repeated efforts, Xerri could have him."

Fabri's plan is to have the group compete in head-to-head elimination races as pairs after three weeks of training. The winner of each race will go on before the final pair race to crown a winner.

Addo-Carr is widely counted as the fastest man in the game. AAP Image/Hamish Blair.
Addo-Carr is widely counted as the fastest man in the game. AAP Image/Hamish Blair.

"I am going to try to look for even match-ups," Fabri said. "After three weeks, I'll know who to put against each other.

"I'm more excited because the public is so excited."

Possible initial match-ups include Cook against Manu with Flanagan and Hayne taking on each other.

Fabri will consider an all-women's line-up after this race and wants to make it a regular event while people's movements are restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm going to drive people crazy to get this going until restrictions get lifted," Fabri said.

"I feel so strongly about this being the most specific training the athletes can do."

 

Cherry-Evans has relished the leadership role he\s undertaken in recent weeks. AAP Image/Darren Pateman.
Cherry-Evans has relished the leadership role he\s undertaken in recent weeks. AAP Image/Darren Pateman.
 

DCE WARMS TO NEW ROLE

Daly Cherry-Evans has finally found his voice and now the Queensland skipper wants to keep it.

Cherry-Evans emerged as a central figure in the RLPA's discussions with the players. It was the first time the Manly captain and Australia's vice-captain (pictured) felt the need to step up and protect the players. He said it was a role he was now comfortable with.

"This is the first time I felt a bit of an obligation to the game to give back and not in regards helping my teammates worry about their preparation for a game or give them an insight to make them a better player," Cherry-Evans said.

"I'm no expert in running a football club let alone a game. I learnt a lot around what it takes to keep clubs and the game alive.

"It was insightful to learn so much. I guess ultimately when you have so many people working together to benefit the game, we were always going to come to an arrangement sooner rather than later. I learnt a hell of a lot. That's the silver lining to it that I got to understand the game a bit better.

"In terms of who wins, it wasn't a win-or-lose situation. As a board member for the RLPA, I will 100 per cent be there to lead the playing group (in the future)."

Despite being in his 10th season, Cherry-Evans said he had very little understanding about what it took to run an NRL club.

 

 

 

Originally published as Set for takeoff: Hayne returns to sporting arena