Why Hougaard is eyeing NFL opportunity

Former Springbok flyhalf Derick Hougaard says he views the opportunity to try out for a NFL contract as a possible ‘second chance’ to end his career on a high, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

Hougaard enjoyed an illustrious career as a Vodacom Bulls player between 2002 and 2008, and fondly became known as the liefling [darling] of Loftus due largely to his goal-kicking exploits.

Hougaard also went on to earn eight Test caps for the Springboks, before heading abroad to play for the Leicester Tigers and Saracens, but his career was repeatedly hampered by injury woes, which eventually led to his premature retirement.

However, the 37-year-old will now participate in a NFL scouting camp taking place in South Africa in December, in the hope of making an impression. If successful, the next step would then be to head to America, where scouts would see if a team was willing to take him on board.

His decision to try out as a punter or field goal kicker comes following the establishment of World Wide Scholarships (WWS Africa) by former American football player Munya Maraire and ex-Golden Lions high-performance manager Bart Schoeman. The aim of the organisation is to lure local talent to the USA, where they will try out for NFL contracts.

Hougaard told SARugbymag.co.za he was excited to make the most of this unexpected opportunity.

‘There’s a lot of thinking that goes into that, but I’m trying to teach my kids to never give up. I’ve got nothing to lose … so we’ll see how it goes.’

Hougaard added that he is still feels physically capable of doing the job, even at the age of 37, but would spend some time focusing on lower-body conditioning and training.

‘Just before I tore my achilles for a third time, I actually had an opportunity to go for a trial in Miami, which then didn’t happen in the end. So this is a second chance, and every athlete dreams of a second chance.

‘I’m just going to try it out and even if it doesn’t pan out, it’s just a message to the younger guys to never give up, and to never look for excuses. With this avenue that WWS has created, it has opened the door of opportunity to make it to America.

‘It’s a positive thing, and we all know South Africa is a very talented country when it comes to sports.’

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Craig Lewis