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Watch: 5 NFL players you wish played rugby

By Peteso Cannon

Everyone knows the high profile code switches from the NFL to rugby union and vice versa, Nate Ebner, Jarryd Hayne and to a lesser degree Carlin Isles.


Ebner plies his trade with the New England Patriots and has picked up two Super Bowl rings along the way. Last year he reverted to rugby sevens and represented the United States national team at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

In Haynes case, he began life as a rugby league player, before moving to the San Francisco 49ers, before once again changing codes, retiring from the NFL to pursue sevens with the Fiji national team, before landing back in the NRL.

Isles gets an honorary mention, having played football in highschool and was was signed – albeit briefly – by the Detroit Lions to the team’s practice squad. He never broke into their 53 man roster, leaving to take up a contract with Glasgow Warriors.

While these players are clearly supreme athletes, hopping from one code to another seemingly at will, if you were to hand pick players from the NFL to make the transition to rugby, who would they be?

Here’s our list:

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William 2 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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