The Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles just got even scarier.
The reigning champions selected Jordan Mailata — a 2-metre, 157-kg Australian rugby player— in the 7th round of the US National Football League (NFL) draft on Saturday. The 20-year-old Mailata most recently played for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Australia's National Rugby League (NRL), and has no American football experience to his name.
Hailing from Sydney, Mailata first drew the attention of NFL scouts after his agent compiled a highlight reel intended to attract attention from other rugby clubs. He was also able to pass the compilation along to a contact at the NFL's International Pathway Program, which eventually resulted in Mailata being invited to train at the highly reputed IMG Academy in Florida.
Mailata has been working out there for several months, training for 4 1/2 hours a day and spending another 3 1/2 hours studying film in order to learn the many nuances of American football, according to an ESPN report.
He turned in an impressive performance at a workout for NFL scouts, running a 5.12-second 40-yard dash (about 36.6 metres). In the end, Mailata visited seven teams: the Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers, and Washington Redskins.
Mailata follows in the footsteps of Jarryd Hayne, who also traded in a professional rugby career in Australia for a shot at the NFL. He signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2015, and ended up appearing in eight regular season games. His career statistics include 52 rushing and 27 receiving yards — and three fumbles.
Meanwhile, in the NRL last season, Mailata made 12 appearances off the bench, scoring eight tries while averaging 21 minutes per game.
Enjoy this YouTube compilation of Mailata steamrolling various rugby foes: