Australian rugby league standout Valentine Holmes and English rugby union wing Christian Wade are among seven athletes competing for a spot in the 2019 NFL International Player Pathway programme.
The league announced the contenders for the chance to have international players improve their skills and make the most of a chance to compete in the NFL, with talent sought from Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Wade, Holmes, Brazil’s Dural Neto, Mexico’s Maximo Sanchez and Germans David Bada, Moubarak Djeri and Jakob Johnson will start training in the United States in January and showcase skills before NFL scouts in March with hopes of a free agent signing or practice squad spot for 2019.
Holmes, 23, sparked host Australia to last year’s Rugby League World Cup title and helped the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks win the 2016 National Rugby League Premiership.
Seen as a rusher or receiver, Holmes set test and World Cup records with five tries in a quarter-final win over Samoa last year then broke his mark with six tries in a semi-final win over Fiji a week later.
Wade, the oldest of the hopefuls at 27, scored 82 English Premiership tries, third on the league’s all-time list, from 2011 to 2018 with Wasps and seeks a running back spot.
The German trio all played for American football sides in their homeland. Rusher Johnson, 24, moved to Florida and played for four years at tight end for Tennessee. Bada, 23, is a defensive end and Togo-born Djeri, the youngest candidate at 22, tried out for Arizona as a defensive tackle in 2017 before being dropped in July.
Neto, 25, is a former judo champion seen as a potential defensive tackle while Sanchez, 25, is a linebacker for Tech Monterrey’s Mexican college club.