BIG MOVE: Ben Barba has been warned about his move to French rugby.
BIG MOVE: Ben Barba has been warned about his move to French rugby. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Hayne warns Barba of difficulties of code-hopping

CODE-HOPPER Jarryd Hayne has backed Ben Barba's move to French rugby but has warned the troubled NRL star to brace for the pressure of succeeding in a foreign sport.

Barba has inked a $2.5 million deal with Toulon - the glamour club that once poached Sonny Bill Williams - and is set to fly to France for their clash against Lyon on February 19.

Barba will arrive at a critical period, with Toulon sitting in fifth place and needing to win six of their final nine matches to clinch a berth in the French Top 14 finals series.

Few Australian athletes have rolled the professional sporting dice like Hayne, who sensationally quit Parramatta in 2014 in his quest to play American football.

The former Dally M Medallist cracked the NFL, managing eight games with the San Francisco 49ers, but admits Barba will face intense scrutiny to deliver bang for his buck in France.

Speaking at the launch of the NRL Nines tournament on Friday, Hayne says he can understand why Barba walked out on the NRL following his 12-match ban for cocaine use.

"Ben didn't know what was happening with the NRL so he's decided to take his talents elsewhere,” Hayne said.

"It's going to be difficult for Ben. I don't think it's so much the other code, it's the language too, having to speak French.

"It's pretty ruthless over there, if someone spends a lot of money they are going to want results.

"It's going to a big challenge for him. There's going to be a lot of pressure on him. It's not easy what we do. We might make it look easy, but it's not easy what we do.

"A majority of league boys are doing something they have done for a long time, but to try a new sport, (Barba) will have more pressure to perform.

"It (his league skills) are definitely transferable, but rugby is more strategic. They are in season at the moment so it's not like Ben can learn and iron the kinks out and make a mistake to go backwards and then forwards. He will have to go forward straight away. There is no pre-season for him.

"They are on the brink of the finals so he will need to help them win games.”

Hayne also hit out at critics of NRL players wishing to explore other avenues in professional sport.

"There's nothing wrong if someone does something different,” he said.

"If you were given an opportunity to work in France ... if you could get a coffee in Paris instead of getting one in Sydney, would you do it?

"It's an adventure. People are missing that point. Australia is so far from everything, but when you go overseas, it grows you as a person and you understand different experiences grow you as a person.

"With the pressure, it builds character, it helps you achieve things you never thought you could.

"In America, I did things I never thought I could. It was a great adventure. I can understand why people are upset with Ben Barba, but he has a huge task ahead of him and I wish him all the best.”

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