‘Bottom-feeder’: Truth about NRL star Jarryd Hayne’s life in Aussie prison laid bare

He once stood at the top of the rugby league tree, but now Jarryd Hayne has been reduced to doing laps inside New South Wales’ oldest prison, labelled a “bottom-feeder” — a prison term used for sex offenders, murderers and disgraced celebrities.

For the first time the brutal reality of former NRL superstar Jarryd Hayne’s life behind bars at Cooma Correctional Centre has been laid bare in the first issue of Sydney Weekend magazine in the Saturday Telegraph.

The luxury lifestyle he once enjoyed has now been reduced to a cell with a double metal bunk he shares with a fellow inmate next to an open toilet. But this is what happens once you are convicted of rape, as Hayne was in March.

Sentenced to a total of five years and nine months, Hayne will spend at least three years and eight months in jail after being found guilty of non-consensual sex with a woman he met on social media in 2018.

Hayne — like other Cooma inmates — is in a cell roughly the width of an arm span. It’s dark and cramped with the only source of natural light from a window slit high above which is covered to stop either the biting cold or searing heat.

Hayne spends 17 hours a day cooped up inside the cell which is deemed to be “below standard” by the on-duty prison officer. He is prison number 661736.

Hayne is reported to generally keep to himself in the prison yard that he shares with 162 other inmates. Housing medium and minimum security inmates, the men-only jail is often dubbed a “white-collar prison”. It’s where they send corporate criminals, corrupt politicians and disgraced celebrities to serve out their sentences under protection.

Others to have served time here include former government minister Eddie Obeid, crooked cop Roger Rogerson, celebrity drug dealer Richard Buttrose and former Auburn deputy mayor and property developer Salim Mehajer.

Also at Cooma are murderers, child-sex offenders and anyone else who fears for his safety in a mainstream jail.

A prison source says Hayne is a regular at the outdoor gym.

“They all like to keep fit — even if just walking laps, which is a prison thing,” the source says.

“There is not a lot of room to keep fit.”

The only recreational space is a small, concrete quadrangle, the gym and a basketball hoop, while Hayne has the opportunity to play football of the round-ball variety on the weekends.

When Hayne isn’t pumping iron, he is participating in the prison work programme earning between A$26 ($27) and A$50 a week to spend on the buy-up. The parties and high-flying lifestyle of the past are now nothing but a distant dream.

Hayne’s celebrity prison status comes with the name. The superstar league player and double Dally M winner who decided to embark on a dream of making it in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers before it all fell apart.

In May 2016 Hayne abruptly announced he was leaving the 49ers to pursue a spot in Fiji’s Olympic Rugby Sevens side. It came after a young woman accused him of raping her while she was blackout drunk. United States police said they did not have enough evidence to charge Hayne, who denied the accusation but settled the woman’s civil suit in August 2019.

Hayne returned to the NRL but never hit the same peaks again. He is protesting his conviction, but for now it’s the high, sandstone walls, dark narrow corridors and heavy barred doors of Cooma Correctional Centre that will be his home.

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