WESTS Tigers enforcer Martin Taupau has revealed his desire to participate in an NFL combine and follow Jarryd Hayne’s career path from the NRL to American football.
Hayne was signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Francisco 49ers and will learn in August whether he has made the cut to the 53-man roster.
Like Hayne, Taupau also dreams of pulling on a helmet and pads in the US.
Speaking candidly to foxsports.com.au, Taupau admitted he has a genuine interest in auditioning for the NFL and believes he has all the attributes to make a successful switch.
“I’m massive on the NFL,” Taupau said.
“I’d love to go over there and try out for the NFL combine.
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“I love the way they train. The footwork, they are very explosive and that’s my game. I’m a very explosive player and that’s the training they do.”
Taupau revealed he recently met with Hayne while the 49ers hopeful was in the country recovering from minor foot surgery.
It was during this meeting that Hayne told Taupau, a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan, he believes he has what it takes to make it as a linebacker.
Taupau fits the build and dimensions of a classic linebacker — he is 188 cm and 112 kilos — and possesses an impressive mix of size and speed vital for the position.
He is also considered to be the strongest player in the NRL with the Kiwi international able to deadlift over 300 kilos power-cleans 140 kilos.
“We had a good chat,” Taupau said of his meeting with Hayne.
“He said I’d make a good linebacker.
“I wouldn’t mind putting myself in there or doing a combine.”
Should he attempt to switch to the NFL, Taupau would find himself in relatively uncharted waters.
Only nine Australians have played in the NFL — and most of those were punters with an Aussie Rules background.
Colin Ridgway, Darren Bennett, Ben Graham, Mat McBriar, Sav Rocca, Chris Bryan and Brad Wing all played as punters with Hayden Smith (tight end) and Colin Scotts (defensive end) Australia’s only other representatives.
Six Australians are in possession of an NFL contract at present — Hayne (San Francisco 49ers), Jesse Williams (Seattle Seahawks), David Yankey (Minnesota Vikings), Jordan Berry (Pittsburgh Steelers), Brad Wing (Pittsburgh Steelers), Tom Hornsey (Dallas Cowboys) — although not all will make their respective 53-man rosters when the season kicks off in September.
Earlier this year South Sydney monster Tom Burgess was linked with an NFL switch after it emerged he only re-signed with the Rabbitohs for one year so he could explore his options in the US.
While Burgess has not seriously explored the possibility of playing American Football, his body and athletic ability has seen him likened to New England tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The Auckland product is off contract at the end of 2016 and, while the 25-year-old will attract the attention of most NRL clubs, he admits his interest is genuine with Hayne paving the way for more Australian sports stars to try their hand overseas.
“I would love to go to the NFL but it’s very hard as you know,” Taupau said.
“You look at Jarryd Hayne going over there — he’s got no background (in the sport) and I’d love to go to the NFL and see what I could achieve.”