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Being dropped made me better: Hayne

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On reflection, Jarryd Hayne accepts his six-week relegation to the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad may have saved his NFL career.

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While Hayne admits he’s now at the mercy of the 49ers’ successor to sacked head coach Jim Tomsula, the believer who initially convinced him to choose San Fran over the Detroit Lions, the code-hopping superstar is hopeful of getting another crack in 2016-17.

Arguably the best performance of Hayne’s season came against the Lions in the 49ers’ penultimate game of a hugely disappointing 5-11 campaign.

It was Hayne’s return game from his time on the outer and he excelled with five receptions and nine carries for a combined 47 yards after being activated as a running back.

“It was great being in the practice squad,” the former NRL ace said after returning home to Sydney yesterday for a holiday.

“Obviously I got a lot of reps at running back. I had to mimic the other teams that we were playing.

“We played some really good teams. We played against the [Atlanta] Falcons against Devonta Freeman, who is one of their best rushers, and [against] the Seattle Seahawks, where it was Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls.

“We worked extremely hard and all the guys do. That’s probably one of the biggest things; that everybody works really hard and for me to give me the opportunity in those last two [NFL] games, I was very thankful.

“I really didn’t realise how much I was going to play in that Detroit game, so that was huge and gave me a lot of confidence and being out there for a long period.”

Hayne says now that the 49ers’ playbook “is pretty much embedded in my brain”, he’ll try to relax with the family after his rollercoaster debut season before hopefully return in April to San Francisco, who retain the 27-year-old’s contract rights.

“It’s going to be the task to switch off,” Hayne said.

“Obviously with the playoffs coming up, it’s going to be fun watching that and I guess diagnosing their defence and offence.

“I’m still a student of the game, so there is always going to be a learning process that I enjoy.”

-AAP

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