Lions' Reggie Bush encouraged rugby star to try NFL

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Guildford, England — Reports surfaced last weekend about the Lions being among the NFL teams interested in Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne, and running back Reggie Bush confirmed Tuesday he was talking up Hayne to his teammates.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the Lions offered Hayne a tryout, but he told The Guardian he hasn't had any formal contact with NFL teams.

Hayne, 26, who played fullback for the Parramatta Eels, is 6 foot 2 and 220 pounds. He debuted in the National Rugby League with the Eels in 2006, though he signed with the club at age 13, and announced last Wednesday he would leave the NRL to pursue an NFL career.

After arriving in London for the Lions' Week 8 game against the Atlanta Falcons, Bush explained his interactions with Hayne, whom he met on a promotional trip to Australia for the NFL in June.

"Me and him had conversations about him coming over to America to play to try out to play football. I just told him if that's what you want to do, then you should go for it and you should at least give it a shot.

Bush, though, said he never talked about Hayne with Lions personnel executives, who would ultimately be the ones to consider him for the roster.

"I didn't say anything directly to them about him, but I told some of my teammates about him, showed them some of his highlights," Bush said. "He's a great athlete, and I told him I definitely think he has a future in the NFL if he's serious about it."

On Monday, Caldwell didn't dispel the reports of the Lions' interest.

"I can't tell you much about that. I know who he is, obviously, but I don't know what I'm supposed to tell you," Caldwell said. "I have no knowledge of it in that regard.

"It could be a personnel issue, but I'm not aware of it."