Philadelphia Eagles coach recalls how he discovered NRL giant Jordan Mailata

Just like Indiana Jones on the hunt for the Holy Grail, Philadelphia Eagles' offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland embarked on an expedition to Florida in March to investigate reports of a gargantuan Australian rugby league player.

The mysterious Aussie, Jordan Mailata, was said to stand 203cm tall, weigh 157kg, possess arms as strong as sledgehammers and feet as swift as a gazelle.

Rumour had it the 21-year-old from Sydney's south-west was too big to play in Australia's NRL and if his dimensions were accurate he would be the biggest player on the just crowned Super Bowl champion Eagles.

Mailata had set up camp at one of the elite sporting facilities in the US, the IMG Academy, and during his workout an excited Stoutland began taking videos and sending them via his phone to the Eagles' front office in Philadelphia.

"He starts shooting you videos," Howard Roseman, the Eagles' executive vice president of football operations, told reporters on Saturday.

"You can't even load them because you have 40 videos on your phone."

At the NFL Draft in April the Eagles, worried another team would select Mailata, executed a deal with the New England Patriots to trade up in the seventh round to snare the South Sydney junior, who had never played a game of American football.

On Sunday, the Eagles announced they had cut their 90-man roster to the mandatory 53 for the regular season, which starts on Thursday against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Eagles named Geelong-raised rookie punter Cameron Johnston in their squad, confirming the impact Aussie rules bred punters are having on American football.

It appeared from the outside Mailata might not make the 53.

Often project players are waived by their teams and re-signed to their practice squad rather than taking up a valuable place in the 53.
Roseman said that was not the plan.

Back in the war room during the April draft the Eagles' brains trust made the decision that Mailata would be "a two-year process" and would be a member of their squad.

"It's hard to find guys who are 6ft 8 and 360 pounds who can run like that and have the core strength that he has," Roseman said.
Mailata is an offensive tackle.

One of his main tasks is to prevent defenders from getting to the Eagles' quarterback or running back.

When you are as big, strong and agile as Mailata that is a decisive advantage.

During his four pre-season games the past month NFL analysts, former players and fans have marvelled at the way Mailata has made opponents - physically huge in their own right - appear like undersized boys.

What cemented Mailata's position in the 53 was his willingness during off- season workouts to do the hard yards to fulfill the potential Stoutland first saw in Florida.

"Certainly there's no guarantees," Roseman said.

"But we want to develop players and when you can find guys at hard to find positions it gets you excited."

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 23, 2018: Offensive tackle Jordan Mailata #68 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs off the field after a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns on August 23, 2018 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 5-0. (Photo by: 2018 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
Offensive tackle Jordan Mailata #68 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs off the field after a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. Source: Getty


Topics



'It's a pretty normal thing' - humble Kiwi cyclist George Bennett on viral water bottle gift moment

Kiwi cyclist George Bennett says his kind gesture for a young adoring fan, where he handed the cheering supporter his water bottle, is nothing new.

Bennett became a viral sensation despite finishing outside the top 10 at the Vuelta a Espana, when he took the time on the final stage to make one young fan's day.

After receiving applause from a young supporter, Bennett decided to give him an unexpected reward for his enthusiastic cheers during one of the event's climbs – his water bottle.

"This kid was still screaming full gas like I could win the race but I was 15 minutes behind at that stage," Bennett told Stuff.

"I've thrown a thousand bottles to kids in my career and I'll probably throw a thousand more."

The moment was caught on video and shared by the boy's family online.

The gesture has now been viewed hundreds of thousands of times with many heaping praise on Bennett for the gesture.

"This one just got caught on video and there's just something about how enthusiastic the kid was," he said.

"But it's a pretty normal thing at the end of a bike race; there's thousands of kids screaming for your bottle when you're riding to the finish.

"It's quite a cool thing because the fans are so connected to the riders, they're so close and for us it's a bottle, we go through 15-20 a day, but for them it's something pretty cool and hopefully it gets them into cycling."

Bennett may have had a disappointing finish in the Tour of Spain but he made sure he made someone else’s day. Source: 1 NEWS


Topics

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Watch: The adorable moment Kiwi cyclist George Bennett gained a young fan for life

Kiwi cyclist George Bennett may have had a disappointing finish on the Tour of Spain but a video has emerged that is sure to win him plenty of fans despite the result.

Bennett finished outside the top 10 at the Vuelta a Espana but took time on the final stage to make one young fan's day.

After receiving applause from the young supporter, Bennett decided to give him an unexpected reward for his enthusiastic cheers during one of the event's climbs – his water bottle.

The moment was caught on video and shared by the boy's family on social media.

The gesture has now been viewed hundreds of thousands of times with many heaping praise on Bennett for the gesture.

Bennett may have had a disappointing finish in the Tour of Spain but he made sure he made someone else’s day. Source: 1 NEWS


Topics

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Black Sox welcome back veterans in 25-man squad as attention turns from Europe tour to 2019 World Champs

The Black Sox have welcomed back a wealth of experience as well as another young pitching talent to their squad as they turn their attention from their Europe tour to next year's World Championships.

Coach Mark Sorenson has named a 25-man squad to attend a training camp in Palmerston North later this month.

All 17 players who were part of the successful Intercontinental Cup campaign in Prague last month have been included with veteran stars Nathan Nukunuku, Wayne Laulu, Tyrone Bartorillo, Josh Harbrow and Josh Pettett rejoining the squad as well.

The Black Sox used the trip to Europe as an opportunity to introduce six new caps while also getting a better understanding of the playing environment in Prague, where next year's World Championships are also being held.

"The 17 players who toured this year laid down a marker for what is required next year, but we are also excited about welcoming back some of our veteran players, and the competition for places that this will generate," Sorenson said.

"There are still a number of spots up for grabs in the World Cup squad and this camp represents the first step in making this team."

Sorenson has also included Wellington's Zac Boyd after his impressive showing at the Black Sox trials in February while Auckland catcher Harrison Valk has also been included following his strong performance with the Junior Black Sox at the U19 World Championships.

However a new face in the squad is Cantabrian pitcher Ben Watts.

Watts impressed at the National Open Clubs tournament earlier this year, guiding Papanui to the final before they were taken down by Nukunuku's Mount Albert Ramblers.

It's hoped Watts' selection will "bring plenty of heat to the pitching roster" and "further their depth".

The squad will assemble in Palmerston North from October 26-28.

Black Sox: Pita Rona (North Harbour), Benjamin Enoka, Campbell Enoka, Campbell Gibson, Cole Evans, Daniel Chapman, Eruera Drage, Harrison Valk, Kallan Compain, Nathan Nukunuku, Rhys Evans, Thomas Enoka, Zane Van Lieshout (Auckland), Joel Evans, Joseph Ferriso, Nikki Hayes (Hutt Valley), Jerome Raemaki, Josh Petitt, Wayne Laulu, Zac Boyd (Wellington), Ben Watts, Jackson Watt, Joshua Harbrow, Reilly Makea, Tyron Bartarillo (Canterbury).

Junior Black Sox Reilly Makea bats against Czech Republic.
Junior Black Sox Reilly Makea bats against Czech Republic. Source: Softball NZ


Watch: Aussie rookie leaves NFL commentators perplexed with use of drop kicks

An Australian kicker playing his first season in the NFL caught the attention of commentators in today's game between the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears by introducing a rugby technique to the sport.

Rookie punter Michael Dickson left ESPN commentators Joe Tessitore and Jason Witten stunned after he performed drop kick kick-offs in the Seahawks' 24-17 loss.

"A drop kick kick-off?" Tessitore asked.

"We are going to send our stat folks into overdrive here, but I'm going to put it out there.

"You tell me the last time you ever saw a drop kick kick-off in the NFL?"

"I don't know if it ever happened Joe," Witten, a star tight end for the Dallas Cowboys for 15 years, replied.

Veteran Sebastian Janikowski usually kicks off for Seattle and uses a tee but coach Pete Carroll, who is known for using non-traditional methods, gambled with Dickson's rugby method.

With 14 seconds left in the game and the Seahawks needing a touchdown to tie, the Aussie attempted a short drop kick hoping his team would recover.

They didn't and the Bears held on for the win, leaving Seattle without a win in their first two games of the new season.

"We're still a work in progress," Carroll said.


Topics