Before he became the Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle, Jordan Mailata started his career as a rugby player in his native Australia, write Joshua Robinson and Andrew Beaton for The Wall Street Journal.
His main problem was that the professional rugby league considered the 6-foot-8, 365-pound lineman too big to play. On a long shot, he decided to try something else and flew to the U.S. to learn a new sport.
“You knew you found something unique,” said Aden Durde, who trained and coached the rugby player when he first arrived in the states.
Five years later, he is Philadelphia’s favorite Australian since he is the one who keeps quarterback Jalen Hurts right side up.
“He’s not a rugby league boy anymore,” said Jamie Eid, Mailata’s youth coach in Australia. “He looks like an NFL player now.”
Mailata is already in his fifth full season in the NFL, and his fast development has resulted in a four-year, $64 million contract extension. On Sunday, he faced one of the toughest tasks of his career and came out victorious when the Eagles beat the 49ers 31–7 for its spot in the Super Bowl.
Read more about Jordan Mailata in The Wall Street Journal.
Curious what Jordan Mailata looked like as part of his 2017 rugby team? Check out No. 16.