MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Australia is known for its rugby and Australian rules football yet the continent has produced a number of athletes who currently play in the NFL. The country is quite well-represented in American sports, with the NBA and MLS boasting several notable Australians.
Given the similarities between Australia’s go-to sports and American football, it makes sense that some players would transition. The NFL is the go-to league for betting when it comes to such high-contact sports, however, and is certainly more popular in terms of international renown.
This list names six Australians who currently ply their trades in America’s NFL.
The 28-year-old joined the NFL as an undrafted player in 2020, signing a deal with the Detroit Lions after the draft. The Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad punter has roots in Australian rules football as he was an ALF pro, playing for St Kilda Football club before switching codes to play college football in the U.S.
The Melbourne native was drafted by St Kilda at No.75 in the 2010 AFL Draft and made his debut against Carlton in the seventh round of the 2011 AFL campaign, coming on as a second-half substitute. He was delisted at the end of the 2015 season and would commit to play for Auburn two years later.
The Gosnells-born 29-year-old is on the San Francisco 49ers roster as a punter. He was drafted by the team at 110th overall, in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, having played his college football for the University of Utah. Wishnowsky was a unanimous All-American as a sophomore in 2016 and won the Ray Guy Award at Utah. He was also named to the College Football All-America Team on the back of his impressive sophomore season.
He signed a four-year contract with the 49ers after being drafted in 2019 and saw Super Bowl action as a rookie that year, making two punts. San Francisco would fall to the Kansas City Chiefs 31-20, however.
Jordan Mailata is a Samoan-Australian who plays as an offensive tackle for the Eagles. Mailata started out playing rugby in his native Australia, suiting up for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Under-18 team and the South Sydney Rabbitohs’ Under-20 side.
NFL execs invited Mailata to try out for their International Player Pathway Program after seeing clips of him playing rugby. The player admitted he had limited knowledge of American football and had never played it before, also revealing that the Super Bowl was the only game he would watch every year. He chose the offensive tackle positions after being asked where he wanted to play because he learned about it from the movie The Blind Side.
He would eventually get drafted by the Eagles in the seventh round as the 233rd overall pick in 2018.
The punter was selected by the Seattle Seahawks at 149th overall in the fifth round of the 2018 draft after playing college football for the Texas Longhorns. He earned the punting job for the team after they released longtime punter Jon Ryan, making his debut in the Seahawks opener vs. the Denver Broncos in what turned out to be a 27-24 loss. Dickson had six punts for 354 net yards in the game. He has since signed an extension with Seattle, putting pen to paper on a four-year $14.5 million deal back in June this year.
Cameron Johnston, also a punter, is signed to the Houston Texans, having played at Ohio State. He also has roots in Aussie rules football and spent a season on the roster of the Melbourne football club.
The player joined the Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 2017 before getting waived just a few months later to sign a reserve contract with the team at the beginning of 2018. He made their 53-man roster that September, as well as his NFL debut in their opening game against the Atlanta Falcons, and took six punts for 313 net yards in an 18-12 win. He re-signed a one-year deal with Philly last March but has since joined the Texans, doing so in March this year.
Adam Gotsis operates as a defensive end for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was drafted by the Broncos in the second round of the 2016 draft after playing college football at Georgia Tech. Having gone at 63rd overall, he became the highest-ever drafted player to hail from Australia. The Broncos signed him to a four-year contract thereafter and he played in all 15 of their games, finishing the season with 14 tackles, five of them on his own, a pass defended and a fumble recovery.
Gotsis made 13 out of 16 possible starts the following year and would post 41 tackles, 28 solo two sacks, four passes defended and one fumble recovery, with the first start coming against the Dallas Cowboys on September 17, 2017. He is now with the Jaguars, signing in 2021 before re-signing with the team in March this year.