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  • Michael Warren

    TropicNow reporter

    Email Michael Warren

    Hayne Train sparks interest in Cairns gridiron comp

    Local interest in American gridiron is gaining pace in the Tropical North with both male and female players signing up for the fledgling local competition.

    Jarryd Hayne didn’t stay long in the NFL but a local Gridiron official believes the talented sportsman and ex-San Francisco hopeful has given the code “a timely boost in popularity” across Queensland.

    Thousands of Australians followed Hayne’s progress with the 49ers before the 28-year-old quit the NFL in May in a bid to make the Fijian national sevens team for the Rio Summer Olympics.

    Months later he returned to the NRL after linking up with the Gold Coast Titans.

    “There’s no doubt interest in NFL has surged in Australia over the past 12 months on the back of what Jarryd did in the US,” Cairns Gridiron coach and former Michigan native David Tibbetts said.

    “I’ve been in Australia for five years and I’ve never seen it as popular as it was when Jarryd was with the 49ers.”

    It’s that ongoing interest that Tibbetts hopes to capitalise on. He is encouraging locals to give the sport a go with training sessions held at Holloways Beach Sporting Complex on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6.30pm.

    "We’re just starting our pre-season and I really encourage anyone to come down and get involved," he said.

    “There is no local league just yet because we don’t have the playing numbers so instead our playing schedule regularly consists of seven matches against Townsville.

    “Our first game is on January 14. We then play them on a home and away basis for six straight weeks after that.”

    Pleasingly, it’s not just the boys who have taken to the sport in Cairns.

    “We have roughly 15 registered male players and about 10 women, which is just great to see,” Tibbetts said.

    “The girls play the game very hard and have a lot of fun in the process which is what it’s all about.”

    For more information, click here to visit the Cairns Gridiron Association Facebook page.