After a bit of meaningless chat between mates over the weekend we had a debate about out of who currently playing Super Rugby / NRL would make it in the NFL if they were told they had to pack their bags tomorrow.
If I had to pick 5 players in either code, they would be:
Jason Saab (Manly Sea Eagles)
He's not the end product by any means but at 20 years old, 100kg and nearly 2m tall this kid has the potential to take that wing position in the NRL to a whole new level. He would make a tidy WR in the NFL.
Tom Trobjevic (Manly Sea Eagles)
Another one that I'm picking will be an immortal by the end of his career. The Daly M Medal winner for 2021 wouldn't look out of place in the U.S.
Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes)
I'd back Jordie to play Quarterback, but if that falls over he would be more than capable making it as a placekicker or punter. Imagine him letting loose onthe pigskin.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm)
A man mountain, Nelson Asofa-Solomona would do some serious damage as a defensive end. I wouldn't like to be a QB having big Nelson bearing down on me.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Blues)
Probably one of the most gifted players in both codes when he's got the ball in hand. I wouldn't mind seeing him have a go as a running-back. He's got the speed, elusiveness and the size to do some real damage.
Who would you back to make it in the U.S?
I really don’t know enough about nfl to even have an educated guess…but I will anyway
I always though some of our loosies had the best mix of speed and power ya riekos of this world have show a clean pair of heels more than once and often after shrugging of other giant blokes
The main problem they'd have is specialisation. All the guys you've named would be world class in the NFL, but only if they'd spent most of their teens playing it and preparing for it, especially in their chosen positions.
The other problem is that some rugby players rely heavily on their top-end speed to evade defence. This is nullified by the amount of insanely quick backs in the NFL, so they may not look anywhere near as good.
Fun wee exercise though. Others that could excel:
Damien McKenzie: the ability to change direction incredibly quickly and while on the move could make him a great short route runner, although his height may count against him here.
Laumape: could be a great running back, and would love those stupid 1 yard run into a pile of bodies to get it over the line thingies. Yes I know he's no longer in Super Rugby. No I haven't gotten over it.
Steven Kitshoff: surely he'd be great at whatever those angry second-biggest guys do
Ricky Stuart: great sideline coach
everyone always looks at the glamour athletic positions, but alot of the smarter rugby players could make the special teams, safety positions with enough game time.
Guys like Nate ebner are not crazy athletes, just make great calls consistantly.
I think tall mobile loosies would be options at tight end. huys like akira(dont think he have the diligence, or luatua are great size for it.
Jarryd Hayne was one of the most dynamic players in the NRL when he took off to try.
He did not make it, he looked slow and unathletic.
These guys are specialised physical freaks.
Now some top rugby players might make it if that's all they played their whole life, their physical development would be totally different. But genetically they are built different
How many polynesians are top level sprinters? Now how many African Americans are?
Agree with @muddyriver some bigger guys could have made it in other positions, especially defense. But that explosive quickness is a standout of great defensive players. A guy like Aaron Donald is a physical freak.
Rugby players of freakish size like say Eben Etzebeth, James Haskell and Billy Vunipola are a dime a dozen in the NFL. Far more common. The flipside is Rugby players have far greater anaerobic capacity than NFLers although with the amount of subs this isn’t great a factor as it was.
Different games though, Apples and Oranges.
NRL/Super Rugby players vs NFL