Jarryd Hayne is to quit rugby league and attempt to build a career in the NFL.

The Parramatta Eels star has left the Australia squad for the Four Nations and will head to the US for trials. Hayne had a superb season and was named Dally M winner along with Johnathan Thurston earlier this month.

“For the past 24 months I’ve been thinking about having a crack in the NFL, and over the last 12 months I’ve been seriously considering it,” said Hayne in a statement on the Eels website. “Today I can officially announce that I will be heading to the United States to pursue an opportunity to play American football. I will be withdrawing from the Kangaroos Four Nations side immediately, and accepting a conditional release from the Eels to make the move overseas.”

Seattle Seahawks, the Super Bowl champions, are a possible destination for Hayne. He recently returned from a trip to the US city, where he looked at the team’s facilities. His initial training base, however, will be Los Angeles. For the moment, he does not have a club though and hopes to end up on a practice squad, which acts as a back-up to the active team. Practice squads are a common destination for rookies and players learning their trade. Lawrence Okoye, a former Olympic discus thrower for the UK, is currently on the San Francisco 49ers practice squad after attempting to carve out a career in the NFL. Players from the practice squad cannot play in games but can be called up to the active roster due to injuries.

A typical salary for a practice squad member is around US$100,000, significantly less than the Hayne earns in the NRL. “I am leaving as the game’s highest paid player because I want to chase my dream,” he said. “I’m heading over there as a blank canvas, it is crazy exciting. I am going making this decision now because I want to give it every chance, I won’t play this year because the [NFL] season is already six games old. I am aiming at next year and I’m starting preparations now.”

Hayne acknowledged it would be difficult to leave the Eels, a club he has played for since he was a teenager. “It hasn’t been an easy decision for me to leave the Eels, the club’s been my home and family since I was 13, and I’ve always been proud to pull on the blue and gold jersey with my team-mates,” said Hayne. “The hardest thing about leaving the club is there’s stability for the first time in a long time, but I know where my heart lies and I’m following that.”