Among the 15 Australians that have played in the regular season of the NFL, none have hailed from South Australia.
But former plumber turned defensive end Matt Leo could become the first if he is successfully signed by a team after finishing the NFL International Player Pathway Program in a few months’ time.
“I just want to show the NFL teams all the physical attributes I have,” Leo, a 2m-tall, 125kg defensive unit exclusively told Wide World of Sports after arriving in Florida to begin the Program.
“I’ll be head-down-bum-up and give everything to the trainers and coaches. I’m excited to continue this next chapter. I’m just ready to get to work.
“Hopefully whatever they see in me – on defence, if they could use me on offense, or on special teams – wherever they feel I could be the best asset for them, I will do that. I want to be the best player and teammate for them that I can.”
Leo, 27, is the latest selected for the Program that last year helped NRL star Valentine Holmes make his way onto the New York Jets practice squad. In the class before that, it led to former South Sydney Rabbitohs junior Jordan Mailata being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. Mailata was one of the first to congratulate Leo on the news last month.
“You’ve been putting in the work! Time to get what’s yours and put yourself on the map!” Mailata tweeted Leo.
The three-month training program at IMG Academy in Florida develops a select group of elite athletes from around the world and gives them a chance to be signed by any of the 32 NFL teams at its completion.
If they are not signed as a free agent after that workout, as part of the Program they may be assigned to a team in one randomly-selected division of the league in pre-season.
Last year it was the AFC East, and it gave players the opportunity to compete for a 53-man roster spot in those teams at training camp. If unsuccessful in making the cut in pre-season, the Program allows players to be assigned to a team’s practice squad as an extra…