Australian Jordan Mailata is one of the only players on the planet to play both American football and rugby at an exceptionally high level and he has now revealed which sport is more difficult of the two.
The 26-year-old from Sydney caught the eye of Bulldogs NRL scouts and joined their under-18 program in 2014.
After a health issue ruled him out of the game for more than 18 months, he ended up playing for South Sydney’s under-20 and reserve teams before his height of 203cm and 142kg put him out of action. makes you unfit to practice this sport at the highest level. .
He entered the NFL’s International Pathways program and took to the field so well that he signed an $88 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022 after excelling as a left tackle on the line offensive – one of the most important and difficult positions to play. the sport.
Mailata signed an $88 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles after surprising fans and pundits with how well he understood American football after switching codes.
Although his imposing frame made him ideally suited to playing one of the toughest positions in the NFL, it prevented him from reaching the pinnacle of rugby league in Australia, even though he excelled at the sport ( photo).
As for which game is the more difficult of the two, it feels like it’s not even close, despite rugby league’s reputation as one of the toughest and most unforgiving contact sports in the world. world.
“If you play (offensive) and (defensive) line, it’s harder than rugby because the pads don’t do anything,” he told the New Heights podcast run by teammate Jason Kelce and his brother Kansas City Chiefs star Travis. , who is currently dating Taylor Swift.
“When people say, ‘Are you wearing pads?’ You’re a bunch of assholes,” (I say) what?
“The bloody pad that goes on your chest is also thin, and you stick a fucking helmet to the sternum.
“It hurts, man.”
The NRL is rightly considered one of the toughest contact sports leagues in the world, but Mailata (pictured left, playing against the Dallas Cowboys) says it’s tougher fighting in the trenches of the NFL.
The Sydneysider was initially picked up by the NRL Bulldogs before moving to Russell Crowe’s South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The Eagles made it to last year’s Super Bowl, losing to the Chiefs – and Mailata is still angry about a phone call he received from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese just before the biggest game of the year.
“He’s the guy who called me the day before the Super Bowl and said, ‘Oh, I just want to congratulate you, I wish you all the best,'” he recalled.
“The next morning I wake up, it’s all over Instagram, Facebook, like this bastard is recording his own thing.
“I thought, oh my God, this is a great policy move.”
NFL offensive and defensive linemen are the biggest players in the game and are easy to spot because they collide on every play, like opposing forwards in a rugby league or union scrimmage.
The Eagles star was less than impressed after Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (pictured) phoned him on the eve of the Super Bowl in February.
Mailata’s position requires a rare blend of speed, agility and strength for a big man – and the power needed to play at the highest level amazed him when he took up the sport.
Recruits must bench press 102 kg (225 pounds) as many times as possible without rest in order to test their endurance, and the Australian thought he had passed with flying colors – only to quickly discover it wasn’t. case.
“I think for the bench press, I got 20 (repetitions) and I was like, ‘That’s pretty good,’ and they were like, ‘Not for your position.’
In last year’s NFL scouting competition for college stars who want to succeed, the best mark set by an offensive lineman was 38 reps.
But Mailata has picked up his game since then, revealing he now presses dumbbells weighing 90kg each when he trains.
“I swear… it’s not even a one-rep max,” Jason Kelce confirmed, meaning the Australian giant is capable of lifting that weight several times before having to stop.