'They’ve got what we’re looking for' – Auckland trialists impress at first international NFL Combine

If today’s trial in Auckland is anything to go by, the NFL’s newest initiative to find the next big thing from Down Under could become a permanent fixture.

Twenty-six athletes turned out for today’s trial but it was two latecomers who really turned heads. Source: 1 NEWS

The NFL are on the hunt for more athletes like Jordan Mailata, who went from playing for the Rabbitohs in the NRL to the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles after being drafted in April.

Talent scout Chris Orr said it’s definitely possible.

"I’m impressed by a number of the guys that turned up today," he said.

"They've certainly got what we're looking for."

Among the real hopefuls was Abraham Papali'i who played for the Roosters in the NRL but then two late arrivals came along and stole the show.

Lance Leota came to the trial straight off of a plane from Samoa and was met by Tongan basketballer Semisi Tu'uefiafi.

Tu'uefiafi, a 19-year-old who stands at over two metres tall and weighs 165kg, says he didn’t know about the trial until this morning.

"My uncle texted me at like 8am and said, 'this was on' and I was like 'okay', slept, woke up at 10.30am and another uncle said, 'I'll come pick you up," Tu’uefiafi told 1 NEWS.

"It kind of caught me off guard, but I'm glad I'm here."

The story was the complete opposite for 21-year-old Leota.

He starred at junior college in San Diego and attracted scholarships from over four top US colleges but returned to Auckland to be with his mother, who passed away in November.

"Putting your whole life towards it and having to leave it sucks but it's worth it. Family's everything."

The pair, along with 24 outers made the most of the trial which was only announced two weeks ago – an error on their part, Orr says.

"If we had more lead time coming into it then we'd see a lot more athletes here today."

But after seeing what it can lead to, there should be no excuses not to turn up in Wellington on Sunday when a second trial plays out at Wellington College.