Saints mining Gold: New Orleans rugby standout gets chance at NFL, invite to minicamp
Tristan Blewett is already a member of one professional New Orleans franchise.
Can he become a member of another one?
Blewett, who plays rugby with the NOLA Gold, had a private workout with the Saints on Monday, according to a source.
The 22-year old from South Africa also got invited to the team’s minicamp, which begins Tuesday and ends on Thursday, according to the source. Blewett is listed at 5-foot-10, 191 pounds on the Gold roster. He plays outside center and wing in rugby.
It is unclear which position the Saints will try to play Blewett. But the skill sets for the position he plays in rugby look most likely to translate to those of a running back, a slot receiver, a safety, gunner or kickoff and punt returns.
Saints coach Sean Payton spoke last week about how important it is for coaches to not leave any stone unturned when it comes to looking for talent.
“We’re in that talent procurement profession, so you’re searching everywhere you can for someone with the right vision,” Payton said. “I looked at a rugby player not too long ago on film. We’re not opposed to putting the film on and looking. I think that’s part of evaluating.”
Blewett was the top player for the NOLA Gold, which finished the season 9-7 and fifth in the league standings.
The Gold, founded in 2017, just completed its second season.
Rugby isn’t the only sport the Saints and other teams are looking to find undiscovered talent that can convert to the football field.
“We’re all looking at the basketball leagues for guys that might be able to transition into our game,” Payton said. “You’re seeing more guys from outside our country than 20 years ago. Not as much as you see it in basketball or baseball, but you’re seeing that in our game as well.”
Payton used defensive tackle David Onyemata as an example of a player who lacked football experience. Onyemata never played football in his native Nigeria, but began playing the sport when he moved to Canada to attend a small college.
The Saints drafted Onyemata in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, making him the first player from the University of Manitoba selected by an NFL team.
“And all of a sudden he has made that transition in a positive way here,” Payton said.
Before playing with the Gold, Blewett also played professional rugby in South Africa with the prestigious Sharks Academy team.
Story by: Rod Walker, The Advocate | Link to original story
Photo Courtesy: Craig Boudreaux
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