NFL is holding open try outs in NZ this week as they scour the Pacific for athletic talent

Are you among the best athletes in New Zealand? If you are, the NFL wants you.

The highest echelon of American football is offering the best athletes from across NZ and the south Pacific an almost once-in-a-lifetime shot at potentially playing in the NFL.

Athletes will be given until virtually the last minute to register for testing days that are being held in Auckland (August 29) and Wellington (September 2) this week (full details at the bottom of the story) with try outs also being held Fiji, Samoa, Brisbane and Sydney.

With the likes of former rugby or league players Jordan Mailata, Jarryd Hayne and Paul Lasike recently having made it to NFL rosters, the league is scouring the south Pacific for athletic talent.

Registrations are open to any athletes aged between 21 and 25 in the year 2019 with applicants to be put through the five drills that are used to test NFL hopefuls at the pre-draft combine.

Those drills are the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump, the broad jump (jumping horizontally from a standing start) and the shuttle drill and three-cone drill which are both used to evaluate an athlete’s explosiveness and ability to change direction.

The best 75 athletes from those testing days will be brought to the Gold Coast for the combine in October.

From there, up to five athletes will enter the NFL international pathway program that includes a fully-funded three-month training program at the IMG Academy in Florida.

The athletes will then enter the NFL draft or be placed with an NFL franchise.

A premium will be put on size, speed and agility with the combine website listing physical attributes for each position group.

Defensive or offensive lineman in the league are typically 188cm (6 foot 2) and above and weigh between 125 and 150kg while still being able to move short distances relatively quickly.

Conversely speed and agility are highly valued commodities in receivers and defensive backs, with players in those positions typically between 180 and 196cm with a weight between 85kg and 105kg.

Running back is the other position listed on the combine website, with the guidelines saying backs in the NFL are typically between 178cm and 188cm and weight 95 to 105kg with an emphasis again on speed and an ability to change direction quickly.

Giving applicants some hope will be the fact that several current NFL players grew up primarily playing other sports including Green Bay tight end Jimmy Graham, who played basketball in college, and New England special teamer Nate Ebner, who grew up playing rugby and even competed for the USA at the Rio Olympics in sevens.

Full details for the New Zealand testing days below. 

Auckland

Date: Wednesday 29th August

Time: 9am Registration / Testing beings at 10am 

Wellington

Date: Sunday 1st September

Time: 10am registration / 11am testing begins

Venue: Wellington College  - 15 Dufferin street, Basin Reserve, Wellington 

Former Australian rugby league player Jordan Mailata, who was recently drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, fronted the video for the NFL International Combine.



Baby squirrels in the US freed from tail tangle

Baby squirrels in the US state of Wisconsin have been freed after their tails became dangerously tangled together.

They were handed in at the Wisconsin Humane Society’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre which worked to save the lives of the five young grey squirrels.

They became entangled with grass and plastic strips their mother used to build a nest.

The squirrels were cut free with scissors while under anaesthetic.

"You can imagine how wiggly and unruly this frightened, distressed ball of squirrely energy was, so our first step was to anaesthetise all five of them at the same time," the centre told the BBC.

Then they began unravelling the "Gordon Knot".

"It was impossible to tell whose tail was whose, and we were increasingly concerned because all of them had suffered from varying degrees of tissue damage to their tails caused by circulatory impairment.

"The creatures will soon be free to resume a tangle-free life in the wild," the centre said.

Baby squirrels in Wisconsin have been freed after their tails became dangerously tangled together. Source: rnz.co.nz

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Watch: Can you help? Black car takes off from West Auckland suburb after driver tries to grab woman

Police have released footage in the hopes it will help them find a man who grab a woman in West Auckland while she was walking down a street at night last week.

Detective Elizabeth Willis says the victim was walking towards Riversdale Road in Avondale on September 11 when she was followed by a man driving a black sedan between 8pm and 9:30pm.

The man, described as being possibly Māori or Pacific Island descent, in his 30s and around 175cm tall, yelled out to the victim before proceeding to park his car on Riversdale Road.

As the woman walked past, the suspect got out of his vehicle and grabbed her from behind but the victim managed to escape and hide until the man left the scene.

"This was a particularly frightening experience for the victim and we are very keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the incident or seen other suspicious behaviour in the area," Detective Willis said.

"If you have seen a vehicle or person matching this description behaving suspiciously, please call us immediately, even the smallest piece of information may prove valuable to help ensure this man is held to account for his actions."

People with information can contact Detective Willis from Avondale Police on (09) 820 5776 or anonymously provide information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Police are hunting the man who was driving the car in Avondale, followed the woman and grabbed her from behind. Source: facebook.com/AucklandDistrictPolice

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US federal agency admits losing track of 1,488 'vulnerable' migrant children

Twice in less than a year, the US federal government has lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children after placing them in the homes of sponsors across the country, federal officials have acknowledged.

The Health and Human Services Department recently told Senate staffers that case managers could not find 1,488 children after they made follow-up calls to check on their safety from April through June.

That number represents about 13 per cent of all unaccompanied children the administration moved out of shelters and foster homes during that time.

The agency first disclosed that it had lost track of 1,475 children late last year, as it came under fire at a Senate hearing in April.

Lawmakers had asked HHS officials how they had strengthened child protection policies since it came to light that the agency previously had rolled back safeguards meant to keep Central American children from ending up in the hands of human traffickers.

"The fact that HHS, which placed these unaccompanied minors with sponsors, doesn't know the whereabouts of nearly 1,500 of them is very troubling," Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, the panel's chair, said.

"Many of these kids are vulnerable to trafficking and abuse, and to not take responsibility for their safety is unacceptable."

HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley disputed the notion that the children were "lost".

"Their sponsors, who are usually parents or family members and in all cases have been vetted for criminality and ability to provide for them, simply did not respond or could not be reached when this voluntary call was made," she said in a statement.

Since October 2014, the federal government has placed more than 150,000 unaccompanied minors with parents or other adult sponsors who are expected to care for the children and help them attend school while they seek legal status in immigration court.

Yesterday, members of a Senate subcommittee introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at requiring the agency to take responsibility for the care of migrant children, even when they are no longer in their custody.

An Associated Press investigation found in 2016 that more than two dozen unaccompanied children had been sent to homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay.

At the time, many adult sponsors didn't undergo thorough background checks, government officials rarely visited homes and in some cases had no idea that sponsors had taken in several unrelated children, a possible sign of human trafficking.

Since then, HHS has boosted outreach to at-risk children deemed to need extra protection, and last year offered post-placement services to about one-third of unaccompanied minors, according to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

But advocates say it is hard to know how many minors may be in dangerous conditions, in part because some disappear before social workers can follow up with them and never show up in court.

The legislation comes as the Trump administration faces litigation over its family separation policy at the US-Mexican border, which while it was in effect sent hundreds more children into the HHS system of shelters and foster care.

Some of those children have since been reunited with their families, while others have been placed with sponsors.

Oakley did not respond to questions regarding whether any of the children who the agency lost track of had been separated from their families before they were sent to live with sponsors.

The legislation is aimed at ensuring HHS does more to prevent abuse, runs background checks before placing children with sponsors, and notifies state governments before sending children to those states, the bill's sponsors said.

"The already challenging reality migrant children face is being made even more difficult and, too often, more dangerous," said the panel's top Democrat, Senator Tom Carper of Delaware.

"This simply doesn't have to be the case and, as this legislation demonstrates, the solutions don't have to be partisan."

The White House has accused Democrats and the media of exploiting the photo. Source: US ABC / 1 NEWS


Police investigating after body found on Auckland beach

A body has been found on a South Auckland beach today.

A police spokesperson told 1 NEWS the body was found on Weymouth Beach after being notified at 1.10pm.

They say details around the circumstances of the death are unclear and at this stage and inquiries are underway to establish what has happened.

Police car generic.
Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS