The success of Australian rugby player Jarryd Hayne with the 49ers this preseason has the NFL thinking about identifying more talent Down Under.
NFL executive vice president of international Mark Waller told the Sydney Morning Herald that the league needs to do a better job of finding talented players all around the world, and a Scouting Combine in Australia could be the way to do that.
“We’ve not really done a good job, I don’t think, of actually thinking through how you build a system for that,” Waller said. “It’s odd because we have a very good system in the US – the Combine. That mechanic is a great way for providing a very clear focal point. It lays out very clearly what the skill requirements are, and in recent years we’ve extended the Combine from a single event to a series of regional events that lead into the Combine itself. It would seem logical to start with ‘well I wonder if there’s an extension of the Combine that we ought to look at’ that could look at bringing in athletes from elsewhere or holding a combines in some other markets. Should we extend that thinking maybe we need a global infrastructure and maybe we test it initially in a couple of markets. Maybe Australia would be a good market to test it in.”
The league is betting that there are other athletes as talented a Hayne, available if scouts can find them.
“It’s definitely stimulated a lot of thought here about what can we do better to create a system for great talented athletes to find their way to the NFL more easily,” Waller said. “Essentially, Jarryd basically took that decision himself and found his own way here. All credit to him. But we should probably be thinking about how we can make that easier. Not everyone is going to be as brave as he’s been or potentially not as immediately talented. That’s one aspect of thinking.”
As the NFL attempts to expand overseas, we may eventually see Scouting Combines all over the world.