Aussie takes a punt: Melbourne-born NFL player forges career

AMERICAN FOOTBALL: As former NRL star Jarryd Hayne sets about trying to make it in the NFL, he can take heart from the performance of fellow Aussie Brad Wing who made history for the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this week.

The 23-year-old rookie, signed as a punter, had also been designated as the place-kick holder against Baltimore.

But with the team lining up for an extra-point play in the final minute of the second quarter, Wing fumbled the snap, forcing kicker Shaun Suisham to pull out of the kick.

Rather than panic with the defence rushing at him, Wing picked up the ball and threw an off-the-cuff pass for Matt Spaeth to cross the line for two points. The effort meant Wing became the first Australian player to throw for points in the NFL.

"It was lucky it was a short one (pass). We do a little bit (of quarterback drills), but I try and stay away from it - we've got a good one here so I let him take care of all that," Wing (pictured) told APN.


Wing wasn't wrong about his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, who became the first player in history to throw 12 touchdown passes over a two-game stretch, in the game against Baltimore.

Roethlisberger bounced back to record the feat after earlier being sacked three times in a row against the Ravens. Wing has also bounced back from adversity this season.

He shanked a punt that travelled just 26.5m against Tampa Bay in round four in September, the Buccaneers going on to score and win the game with seven seconds left.

"I think it's important where you're a specialist to have a short memory. You have to move on from the bad ones, and the good ones too," Wing said.

That was the same attitude that got him into the NFL, after having his dreams of playing AFL crushed when TAC Cup side the Sandringham Dragons cut him.

Soon afterwards, though, Louisiana State University scouted him, Wing going on to average a school record 40.8m on 118 punts in 23 games. His career would be enough to make his father David, who also played Aussie rules and tried out for the Detroit Lions in 1990, proud.

"I wanted to be an Aussie rules player big time. It was funny when I started playing at LSU, guys like Buddy Franklin would reach out to me, and I was thinking 'these guys are as big as these NFL players'," Wing said. "It's been a good journey. I just started out as an exchange student, and that led to LSU coming to watch me play, and it hasn't stopped."

Topics:  jarryd hayne nfl

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