SYDNEY (CBS SF) — An Australian rugby league star player who is giving up his rugby career to pursue a National Football League career has been signed by the San Francisco 49ers, according to the team.

Two-time Australian National Rugby League player of the year Jarryd Hayne announced a deal with the 49ers Monday in Sydney. The team confirmed a three-year deal with the 27-year-old former fullback with the Parramatta Eels of the Australian National Rugby League on Tuesday in Santa Clara.

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At his Sydney press conference, Hayne thanked the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions for showing interest in him after he revealed in October he would leave Australia to try and pursue a career in the NFL. He worked out in California for several NFL teams, according to the 49ers website.

New 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula, who has experience teaching American football to foreign players as coach of the Rhein Fire of the now defunct NFL Europe league, was cited by Hayne as one of the main reasons for his decision to  choose the 49ers.

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“He was probably the one coach who knew the transition better than anyone. He knows what it’s going to take,” Hayne said. “When Jim Tomsula got the job, that’s when I called (my agent) back up and was like, ‘You wouldn’t believe it. The guy I spent the most time with is now the head coach.’”

Hayne is 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds and known for his speed and acceleration in rugby. He says he believes he has the ability to play as a punt returner or kick returner. He’ll likely will compete for a job as a backup running back and could be effective catching the ball out of the backfield.

The 49ers also have former British rugby player Lawrence Okoye, who spent the 2013 season on injured reserve and 2014 season on the practice squad roster.

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