Jarryd Hayne has survived round one of the San Francisco 49ers’ cuts ahead of the next NFL season.
The NFL team announced on Friday they have waived Kendall Gaskins, one of Hayne’s rivals for a running back position.
Gaskins, quarterback Dylan Thompson, offensive lineman Jordan Devey and kicker Corey Acosta were cut to create room on the 90-man roster for nine of the team’s 11 draft picks and 12 undrafted rookie free agents.
198cm tall, 143kg Australian offensive lineman Blake Muir was one of the free agent additions.
Coach Chip Kelly will make further cuts to get the team down to a 53-man squad for the start of the season in September.
The 49ers are likely to waive two more running backs.
Another addition to the roster and fresh competitor for Hayne is 22-year-old University of Florida running back Kelvin Taylor, drafted by the 49ers last week.
They have Hayne, Taylor, Carlos Hyde, Shaun Draughn, DuJuan Harris and Mike Davis on the roster, but are expected to only keep four.
A key to Hayne’s survival will likely be if Kelly values the former Parramatta star as a punt or kick returner on the special teams unit and a back-up running back.
With teams restricted to taking 46 players into a game, players like Hayne who can play multiple positions are essential.
Last season Hayne was waived and then signed to the 49ers’ practice squad after then head coach Jim Tomsula lost faith in Hayne when he fumbled three times as a punt returner.
The cut-throat nature of the NFL, and a reality check for any NRL or AFL players contemplating a move to the US, was also on display on Thursday when former AFL player Joel Wilkinson was cut by the Arizona Cardinals just two months after he was signed.