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Hayne’s NFL debut seems unlikely

The man known as the Hayne Plane could be grounded when the San Francisco 49ers take on the Minnesota Vikings in their NFL season opener.

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Head coach Jim Tomsula and special teams co-ordinator Thomas McGaughey did their best to dampen the hype around Jarryd Hayne on Thursday and repeatedly pointed out he was a rookie who still had plenty to learn about American football.

Hayne, they said, had made extraordinary progress but was only a member of the 53-man squad and yet to earn a spot on the field in a regular season game.

“I don’t want to take anything away from what the man has achieved but all he’s achieved was an opportunity to be in the locker room,” Tomsula told reporters.

McGaughey talked up DeAndrew White, one of the 49ers challenging Hayne for the punt return job.

“Everybody is flying the Hayne Plane right now but if you look at who led our team in punt returns in the pre-season, it wasn’t Jarryd Hayne,” McGaughey said.

“It was DeAndrew White.”

The back-to-back press conferences in an auditorium in the bowels of the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium seemed designed to lower the expectations of the former Australian NRL star’s growing army of fans and prepare them for Hayne sitting out Monday’s (Tuesday 12.20pm AEST) clash.

Only 46 players will be named in the game day squad.

However, some media members wondered if the sobering words about Hayne were a trick.

The theory was Tomsula and McGaughey were pointing out Hayne’s inexperience as part of a plan to fool the Vikings into thinking he wouldn’t play but then unleashing him.

The 49ers can keep their squad secret until 90 minutes before the game.

When AAP jokingly told McGaughey Australia would declare war if Hayne was left out, he laughed.

“You know what, I’m aware of that,” McGaughey, who has overseen Hayne’s role as a punt and kick returner, said.

“No, Jarryd is a heck of a player, very talented, a young player but needs to mature a little bit as far as getting experience.”

There seems to be questions about whether Hayne could handle the pressure of the NFL’s first Monday Night Football game – a nationally televised event in the US.

McGaughey described the four pre-season games Hayne excelled in as a paintball fight but said in the regular season there would be “real bullets flying”.

Hayne was not available to speak to reporters but team-mate and rival for Hayne’s running back and punt return positions, Reggie Bush, was.

says he is ready to play the Vikings.

“You’ll see Monday night,” Bush smiled when asked if he .

While Hayne’s debut might be delayed, Melbourne punter Jordan Berry on Thursday notched up the first regular season game of his career.

Reigning Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots beat Berry’s Pittsburgh Steelers 28-21.

Berry, who a year ago was working at a Melbourne McDonald’s to pay for a trip to the US, averaged 43 yards on his two punts, with the longest 50.

Steelers fans were calling for Berry to take over field goal kicking duties after team-mate Josh Scoobee missed his first two shots.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady shook off the Deflategate scandal to throw four touchdown passes, with three going to All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski.

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