Where no American has gone before

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By AllSports, AllSports is a Roar Rookie

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    So you have an opportunity to play a code of football at the highest level and yet you have so many questions.

    Well, you can be expected to run a half marathon over the course of the game, play on a field that is twice as long and three times wider than any NFL field has to offer and yet has more in common with basketball than American football.

    You’ll require a nutritionist simply to get you through the game and a heightened level of awareness, as no offside rule exists.

    Scoring is the most frenetic of all of the football codes that any country has to offer. Time outs only occur when players are removed from the field by a stretcher and the crowd only ever dares to leave their seat at the end of each quarter break. The one fact that you have the most trouble with is the size of the playing field. You will take photos and tweet about it. It’s just enormous.

    The vast majority of the 310 million born and bred sporting mad people that populate your country have never heard of this code and not one of them has played at the top level.

    Of the 229,000 people that populate your home city, not one person you know has ever heard of it, with YouTube your only friend.

    And yet it has been around since 1858. To the Americans who have no idea, they will call it rugby. To those who know a little, they will call it Aussie rules. To Australians, it’s simply known as footy.

    While the five years of college have been good to you, things haven’t gone the way you expected.

    But opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.

    So when your agent calls with this bizarre opportunity you grab it with both hands. A corporate job and the life as Mr nine to five will be there for life but this small window to create history and become the first American to do so is yours for the taking.

    This is the true story of a 24-year-old American by the name of Eric Wallace. Today it become official, he is now in the hot seat to become the first born and bred American to play in the Australian Football League.

    The North Melbourne football club have provided him with this opportunity. Finally, the Roos have stepped up to take on the role of building an international recruit. If Eric had been drafted by the Sydney Swans his debut would have been a formality.

    If I had to choose one other club that is capable of making this work, I would have said the Kangaroos. I say this for two reasons. First, Eric is already patient, honest, fair and loyal. This is the shinboner spirit and is what the Kangaroos expect of their players.

    This is a fantastic fit and will be an awesome story. Secondly, Brad Scott is a no nonsense coach who wouldn’t take on a player unless he knew it was going to work. Already it has given the Kangaroos a lot of publicity and once Eric plays his first senior game, I have no doubt the jumpers will be flying off the shelf in the USA and it will increase the North Melbourne global fan-base.

    And finally, Eric becoming the first American to do something, there will have to be a movie about it at some stage. I’m not sure who would play Eric, but I’m thinking Tom Cruise with some shoe lifts would be a good fit for Brad Scott.

    To Eric I say good luck mate. If they don’t make a movie about you, you may just open the flood gates for more young basketballers who want a different path.

    Start a kicking program for American High Schoolers, you could make a fortune.

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    The Crowd Says (160)

    • December 21st 2012 @ 10:31am
      Diablo said | December 21st 2012 @ 10:31am | ! Report

      Is it true he only picked up a sherrin 4 months ago as reported in the media yesterday? Now he’s playing at the elite level in the best competition in the world no less? Remarkable!

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2012 @ 11:28am
        Redb said | December 21st 2012 @ 11:28am | ! Report

        The level of ignorance. Go learn what a rookie is.

        • December 21st 2012 @ 2:14pm
          Diablo said | December 21st 2012 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

          Sorry Redb. He never played the game until 4 months ago and is now a rookie in the world’s best AFL competition. Got it.

          • December 21st 2012 @ 3:18pm
            Doghouse said | December 21st 2012 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

            I remember Manfred Moore coming from the Los Angeles rams (I think) coming straight in to play for newtown NRL first grade without a second grade appearance in the late 80’s….

            And the Western reds signing AFLs Adrian Barich without him previously playing an NRL game or

            RL recruiting dozens of NZ rugby players to play under 20s or

            Parramatta signing Jeff fenech to play second grade RL or

            Balmain signing athlete Darren Clark to play first grade (despite what Sean historian says he played first grade)

            Rugby signed (in amateur days) sprinter Bob Lay to play for Randwick but he started in third grade…

            • December 21st 2012 @ 6:33pm
              David Heidelberg said | December 21st 2012 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

              Jeff Fenech was headed for a career as a professional Rugby League player until he chose boxing.

              • January 2nd 2013 @ 4:33pm
                Doghouse said | January 2nd 2013 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

                Fenech had not played League for years and was trimmed down for his weight division but went straight into Parra seconds….

          • December 21st 2012 @ 4:34pm
            Brewski said | December 21st 2012 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

            Doubt very much he will play in the AFL, many new draftees actually play in the reserves at WAFL or SANFL clubs for EX ( if drafted to WCE, Dockers, Crows etc ) and its a long way from that to the AFL, it is usually a very slow process.

      • December 21st 2012 @ 12:25pm
        Rough Conduct said | December 21st 2012 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

        The speed of progression is directly related to the back story. An African-American Basketballer scores extremely high in the public relations KPIs set out by AFL HQ, as such he has been accelerated into an AFL squad. Like Folau – the Polynesian Rugby League player, whether he has the skills or not is a moot point, the AFL soft news machine has plenty of fuel for the coming season – the raison d’etre for signing anyone from outside the AFL system.

        • Roar Guru

          December 21st 2012 @ 1:48pm
          The_Wookie said | December 21st 2012 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

          The AFL: do not own North Melbourne where they do GWS and Gold Coast, and North would not put on a player for AFL propaganda purposes unless they thought he was a genuine prospect. And he is far from the first basketballer to be taken by an AFL club.

          Players can be rookied from anywhere, and an allowance exists under the current system foir non AFL players outside the current AFL/state league/under 18 sysem. We’ve taken guys from New Guinea and Ireland for years with little fan fare.

          • January 10th 2013 @ 2:31am
            Jack said | January 10th 2013 @ 2:31am | ! Report

            Don’t discount the marketing angle. They may rate him but would they have taken him if he was born and bred in Australia?

        • December 21st 2012 @ 6:33pm
          Harry said | December 21st 2012 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

          Great post , I totally agree. Once again it’s smoke and mirrors not substance.

      • December 21st 2012 @ 6:29pm
        Harry said | December 21st 2012 @ 6:29pm | ! Report

        Just proves what an easy game Aussie rules is to play. No other professional sport in the world would be doing this, it would be impossible.

        • December 21st 2012 @ 7:41pm
          Brewski said | December 21st 2012 @ 7:41pm | ! Report

          Basketball seems to be able to do it, no one bats a eyelid, NBA start Dikembe Mutombo never picked up a basketball till his late teens, but then again in your mind it’s probably different, its not Australian football !!.

          So, one of the biggest, richest most popular sports comps in the world does exactly what you puport is impossible.

          Your post is proven 100% incorrect.

          • December 21st 2012 @ 8:36pm
            Harry said | December 21st 2012 @ 8:36pm | ! Report

            Bad grammar brewski and you have gone nowhere near 100% . The afl is pro actively trying to get athletes from other sports. It is an admission that there aren,t enough ridiculously skinny, super tall kids who want to train like Kenyon long distance runners in this country. And a further admission that the game itself is easy to play – suck it up mate it’s just the facts.

            • December 21st 2012 @ 9:15pm
              Brewski said | December 21st 2012 @ 9:15pm | ! Report

              Thanks for your reply Harry, you normal form is to make a snide remark and then skulk off.

              You seriously think that AFL players are super tall and super skinny, perhaps there is something wrong with your TV, granted they are not built like Rugby forwards, but they do a lot of running and are very fit.

              I dont think its any secret that the AFL is trying to get the best athletes, every sport worth it’s salt should and is probably doing the same thing.

              As far as Wallace is concerned Wallace was a pretty big name recruit coming out of high school and went to Ohio State, which one of the biggest and best Division 1 universities, both in basketball and gridiron. He transferred to DePaul, which isn’t as big as Ohio State, but still has a pretty good history and plays in one of the best conferences in the NCAA.

              He should be applauded for having a crack, not put down by the likes of you.

              And i guess if it’s so easy to play, then he should be an absolute superstar.

              • December 21st 2012 @ 9:46pm
                Harry said | December 21st 2012 @ 9:46pm | ! Report

                Every chance of that brewski. After all a very lame rugby lineout jumper for Canada now is an elite afl player with a premiership to his credit . Facts mate – easy game to play even for the uninitiated .

              • December 21st 2012 @ 10:00pm
                Brewski said | December 21st 2012 @ 10:00pm | ! Report

                So is NBA basketball, a guy who never played the game untill late into his teenage years became a absolute superstar, proves how easy NBA is !, and absolutely destroys any semblance of a argument that you had.

                Perhaps you should have a crack at the NBA, easy money, much more than the AFL, might give your life some purpose, rather than spending your time being highly critical of Australias native game.

                Mike Pyke might not be the best footballer running around, but he has proven himself better than the last code hopper Folau at both rugby and Australian football, and a hell of a lot more heart.

              • December 21st 2012 @ 10:40pm
                Brewski said | December 21st 2012 @ 10:40pm | ! Report

                Merry Xmas Harry, your very entertaining yourself in a very simple way, nice way to end a discussion where you have been absolutely walloped yet again.

                Be sure to come back anytime to talk about a game you don’t like, i am more than happy to discuss a game i like. πŸ™‚

        • December 22nd 2012 @ 11:30am
          GoGWS said | December 22nd 2012 @ 11:30am | ! Report

          Yeah Aussie Rules is a very easy game to play isn’t it. Just ask Folau who dominated in RLeague yet could barely find the ball in two seasons of Aussie Rules. Maybe also have a chat to KHunt who took two seasons to raise himself to be a fair to average player, and who constantly broke down physically in his first year (and Hunt has been quoted as saying AFL games take longer to recover from that NRL games). Or Mike Pyke from the Swans who’s been battling away since 2008 – he is solid player now after five seasons but clearly he is still learning and has a way to go.

          Whatever has been proven from these various conversions is precisely the opposite of what you claim. Aussie rules is a very hard game to pick up if you don’t have a junior career – without it you’re going to struggle with the skills and the patterns of play. Folau go his fitness to an OK level, and his skills were passable – what he lacked was game knowledge and game sense…this vital aspect of the game didn’t come to him after two seasons in the AFL system but there were signs very late that he was getting the hang of things…Folau should have done better in 2013 but we’ll never know for sure.

          And as for looking for talent from non-traditional sources ..well I think that is smart. Realistically any of these converts are not going to be top shelf (ala Ablett, Judd etc) but they may offer something. The AFL wins and the convert gets a career. What’s wrong with that.

          • December 22nd 2012 @ 11:05pm
            Steve said | December 22nd 2012 @ 11:05pm | ! Report

            Almost makes you wonder why Harry doesn’t just waltz into Aussie Rules, make some millions, win the Brownlow and steal Rebecca Twigley doesn’t it?

            Seriously, hate Aussie Rules all you like, but saying it’s ‘easy’ is laughable.

            • December 23rd 2012 @ 12:01pm
              Brewski said | December 23rd 2012 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

              Steve, Harry is just a serial lurker, looking for any chance to lay the boot into Australian football and the AFL, with comments he knows, and have been shown to be ill informed, lacking objectivity and non-factual, not just on this article, but over many.

              Harry is continually doing that, yet accuses others of being insecure when pulled up on it.

              Maybe Harry would be happier spending his time and energy concentrating on things he likes rather than the opposite, but maybe not !!.

              Merry xmas Harry πŸ™‚

    • December 21st 2012 @ 10:31am
      Midfielder said | December 21st 2012 @ 10:31am | ! Report

      Given the door has been opened …. the question I pose is …

      Does the AFL have the playing talent coming tho to provide enough quality to supply 18 teams + 2 additional talked of… when the NRL and Football have got must better at keeping their best juniors …

      I read somewhere the other day the AFL has … about 450K players…. 18 teams … squads of ? ? 30 [don’t know] change this figure but do the same calculation…

      So 450, 000 / 18/ 30 is around a player for each 833 players… by most standards that is a high figure …

      RL can raid the Pacific Islands & Union, Union can look broadly to a world player base, Football can look to the world for players and A-League teans can have 5 oversea based players in a squad of 23 or say 22% of the players …

      Or maybe its a way of the AFL management keeping the AFL in the news and looking a very proactive sport…

      • December 21st 2012 @ 10:58am
        Timmuh said | December 21st 2012 @ 10:58am | ! Report

        Midfielder, yes Australian Football does have enough players to fill 18 teams; and as population and playing numbers grow should be able to fill 20. The state leagues have a number of players who could be playing in the AFL had they been drafted, or eorked harder when they had the chance, or just been luckier when at an AFL club.
        GC and GWS make it look as thought th etalent pool is depleted but they have not been competitive largely because they focussed very heavily on young players whose bodies are not yet ready. They could have selected more SANFL and WAFL players and been more competitive from the start, but decided to take as many kids as possible in order to ensure they got as much of the fture talent as possible and maximise the probability that some will come through – as some will certainly fall by the wayside.
        The AFL is also not in a position to be compared with any other league, so in some respects the level of play is less important. It will be the best available in the sport for a very long time to come, barring some sort of “super league” type split or other circumstance.

        The AFL and some of its clubs also have some money to look at overseas recruitment. Personally, I don’t think many will adapt to the game at all but its not a huge cost in the context of the major football codes in this country. And, yes, your last sentence is very much on the money; it is largely a news cycle and marketing thing (we need cheap marketing at North too). The biggest problem the AFL has is not player depth, it is that the big clubs have forced expenses so high that a small club can barely operate on $30m a year.

      • December 21st 2012 @ 11:11am
        Australian Rules said | December 21st 2012 @ 11:11am | ! Report

        To date, there have been AFL players born in Ireland, Canada, Fiji, New Zealand, Czech, Israel, Chile, England, Brazil and many other countries.

        It’s obviously an iconic Australian sport, but I’m surprised at people’s shock horror that an American kid is giving it a go.

        I guess people just jump at the opportunity to knock AFL at any given chance.

        • December 21st 2012 @ 1:07pm
          Timmuh said | December 21st 2012 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

          “Born in” is very different to “raised in” or “recruited from”. A few Irish and arguably one Canadian are about it that have done anything in terms of the “recruited from” category and they either had Gaelic background or an oval ball, full contact one.

        • December 21st 2012 @ 1:49pm
          Midfielder said | December 21st 2012 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

          AR

          LOL at people jumping at the chance to knock AFL… my question was about playing talent … does the AFL have enough ..

          To say there have been player born in … Ireland, Canada, Fiji, New Zealand, Czech, Israel, Chile, England, Brazil and many other countries….. boarders on one of the silliest comments on an AFL thread … we are an emigrant country of course there will be players born overseas… but please don’t try to say the AFL can draw on players overseas in anything like the numbers of the other football codes…

          Just to give you a taste of what I am talking about … Football has 380 million registered player world wide … lets take one percent of that … 3.8 million lets say a quarter of a million people in the world play at a professional level [I don’t think its that high] but divide a quarter of a million by 380 million .. is 1, 520 players pre professional spot… say the top 10, 000 players its 38, 000 players per professional spot…

          AFL say 450, 000 players and 18 professional teams at I have been told 40 players in a squad and second division teams all up say 1, 500 professional players or 1 player per 300 players … and the top 720 players its one player per 625 players..

          Its avalid question

      • January 10th 2013 @ 3:03am
        Jack said | January 10th 2013 @ 3:03am | ! Report

        The correct formula (if the raw numbers are correct) is – 450,000 / 756 = 1 in every 13,608 players go on to play AFL in any given year. My assumption is 450k players with each AFL team having 42 players. 42 players x 18 teams = 756 AFL players per season. So you’ve got a 1 in 13,608 chance of playing this year but thats only if you’re currently playing the game.

    • December 21st 2012 @ 11:03am
      The Truth said | December 21st 2012 @ 11:03am | ! Report

      What in my comment warranted it being deleted? There was no profanity, nor personal attacks.

    • December 21st 2012 @ 3:25pm
      The Kebab Connoisseur said | December 21st 2012 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

      Martin Pike the Canadian rugby player, who scored a try against the All Blacks, is now a AFL premiership player.

      A basketballer will do really well in AFL. Similar vision required, you just have to work on the skills.

      • December 21st 2012 @ 3:54pm
        Doghouse said | December 21st 2012 @ 3:54pm | ! Report

        dean Brogan, Kurt tippett, pendlebury – there are many who have come from basketball but of course some played both…

      • December 21st 2012 @ 3:57pm
        Brewski said | December 21st 2012 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

        Sorry kebab …. it s Mike Pike, Martin was the Brisbane premeirship journeyman.

    • December 21st 2012 @ 4:17pm
      Brewski said | December 21st 2012 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

      http://www.worldfootynews.com/

      Interview of Eric for who is interested

      • December 21st 2012 @ 10:25pm
        Harry said | December 21st 2012 @ 10:25pm | ! Report

        Merry Xmas brewski – you’re very entertaing !

    • December 21st 2012 @ 4:37pm
      Dingo said | December 21st 2012 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

      Good to see North giving this bloke a go, hopefully he can learn the game and become a quality player for them.

      The recruiters of some AFL clubs are good lateral thinkers, probably by necessity. Their willingness to look beyond the traditional recruiting grounds should be applauded.

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