A NUMBER of high profile rugby players are being courted to join the NFL.
The Telegraph reported that Jack Bechta, the agent that helped secure Jarryd Hayne’s move to the San Francisco 49ers, has held talks with several players who played at the recent Rugby World Cup.
“I have had several high-level discussions with some of the best rugby players in the world, some of which participated in the Rugby World Cup,” Bechta said.
“I won’t mention names because I don’t think it is fair to them right now because the speculation that will come with that. It could maybe cause some problems with their club, but these are headline players we have been speaking to.”
It’s reported that eight players have been identified as potential NFL talent.
Bechta said the speed in which Hayne progressed to the NFL provided food for thought for players toying with a career change.
“I think the fact that Jarryd was one of the best of the best got everyone’s attention,” Bechta said.
“Once people saw that he had initial success it probably got some rugby league and rugby union players thinking that if he can do it so can.
“Once people saw that he had initial success it probably got some rugby league and rugby union players thinking that if he can do it so can I.
Bechta’s revelations come a week after news broke that South Sydney NRL forward Tom Burgess, the brother of star code-hopper Sam, had been trying out at the New York Giants, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.
But Bechta, who also represented Hayden Smith, the Australian rugby forward who returned to rugby ahead of the World Cup after a two-year stint with the Jets, said he was surprised by Burgess’ positional ambitions in the NFL.
“I was a little surprised that Tom is trying out at tight end,” he said.
“He would probably be better suited as a defensive end where he would make more of an impact faster. That is a really tough position but good luck to him.”
It was just six weeks ago that Osi Umenyiora, a two-time Super Bowl winner with the New York Giants and the NFL’s London-born UK ambassador, revealed that a number of players competing at the World Cup were genuine candidates to try their hands in the NFL.
He made special mention of two world class wingers, England’s Anthony Watson and the All Blacks’ Julian Savea, who was the leading try-scorer at the World Cup with eight.
“It has been fascinating for me being here at the Rugby World Cup,” Umenyiora said.
“I have been watching closely for players who could potentially translate across as NFL players, and have definitely seen a few.
“There are other Jarryd Hayne’s out there.
“Jarryd has done very well, but the players we are talking about are going to be better than him. No question about it.”
“I like the look of Anthony Watson. He has great hands and a very good step as well as explosive pace.
“Obviously New Zealand’s Julian Savea is being dubbed the ‘new Jonah’, and he has been awesome this tournament.
“His hat-trick of tries (against France) blew me away. The guy ran over people for his second try and you definitely sit up and notice!’
Umenyiora also mentioned England’s Mike Brown and Owen Farrell as other candidates.