One wonders what was going through Jarryd Hayne’s mind when, after being handed an NFL debut on Monday Night Football – the biggest slot of the week – he fumbled his first punt return.
The groan could almost be heard across the Pacific.
“I had a read on it and it kind of kicked again as it was coming down,” said Hayne after the match.
You could forgive Hayne a few nerves on his big day – a clash with the Minnesota Vikings at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
But one ESPN analyst was brutal in his assessment.
“That ball ate him up. There’s a bit of wind in the stadium tonight but that is an inexcusable mistake for Jarryd Hayne,” commentator Trent Dilfer said.
Later, ESPN staff writer Paul Gutierrez described Hayne’s debut as an “inauspicious” one.
The 27-year-old was furious with himself.
But Hayne is nothing if not a resilient character.
He steadied his nerves, steeled himself and turned in a solid first hitout in 49ers colours, as San Francisco posted a 20-3 win over the Vikings.
As his coach Jim Tomsula said when his place on the roster was confirmed, Hayne is simply at the starting line of a long journey.
And he made a reasonable start to the race.
After overcoming his early disappointment, Hayne’s night got busier when Reggie Bush – the 49ers’ second-choice running back – suffered a calf injury.
Hayne then had to deputise for star man Carlos Hyde – whose two touchdowns would prove the difference between the sides.
He responded with some fancy footwork to gain seven yards.
The former Parramatta Eel finished the game having gained 13 yards from four carries.
“I still have a long way to go and learned a tough lesson tonight,” he said.
— TheRidgyDidgeReport (@theridgydidge) September 15, 2015
And Hayne already has some famous friends in the US. Hollywood star Jeremy Renner said he was firmly aboard the Hayne Plane.
So as far as debuts go, it wasn’t earth shattering – but it’s a start.
Hayne has already proved so many doubters wrong on his American odyssey, and he’ll be better for the run.
The 49ers’ next clash is at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
It will be interesting to see if the Hayne Plane makes the trip, or if the early turbulence (below) against the Vikings will see him grounded for the foreseeable future.
ICYMI: Hayne’s 1st touch: loses track of the ball in the air, caught a little deep & it goes right through the arms pic.twitter.com/UBAU7DCjK6
— Laurie Horesh (@LaurieHoresh) September 15, 2015