The incident, which occurred at Coogee Beach, has Hayne being labelled as a hero, after he and his father, former South Sydney player Manoa Thompson were swept up to 200m from shore to save the girl, after she yelled, “I can’t do this anymore”.
Thompson said of the incident last night that, “Put it this way, if Jarryd hadn’t pulled her up, she was gone.”
“There would have been a drowning at Coogee and we would have lost a backpacker,” Thompson said.
“We were both holding her and telling her to stay calm. It was traumatic and shocking.”
The woman, who was swimming outside the flags in a 3m swell, got into trouble at around 1pm, and that is when Hayne reacted, and acted on instinct.
“I’ve never been caught in a rip like that before – and the woman couldn’t swim,” Hayne said.
“The rip actually swept Dad 10m out past me and I thought ‘Shit, the lifeguards are at the other end [of the beach]’.
“We actually got taken out another 50m. I was just telling her to relax but we were getting dragged further and further out. We kept her head above water and kept telling her not to panic.”
After that time, both Hayne and Thompson ensured that the girl was safe, even after they had rescued her.
NRL chief David Gallop praised Hayne, saying: “It was an outstanding effort and one the game can be proud of.”
Reinforcing the message to stay safe, Bill Seay, the Illawarra Surf Live Saving President said: “When conditions are [rough], I plead with all to stay out of the water until things calm down.”