Former Sharks and Kings centre Tristan Blewett has been invited to try out for NFL side the New Orleans Saints.
The 22-year-old Blewett was born in Johannesburg, but grew up in Durban where he was schooled at the famous Hilton College. He played for the Sharks between 2016 and 2018 before moving to Port Elizabeth in September last year for a short stint at the Kings.
He joined New Orleans Gold late in 2018 on a two-year contract, and was the standout performer in their recently concluded Major League Rugby campaign in the USA.
But Blewett didn’t just make a lasting impression in USA rugby circles, he also caught the eye of those involved in American football.
‘It’s too good a story, I can’t tell you,’ Saints coach Sean Payton said about his surprise invitation to Blewett.
‘If I told you a local artist texted me about this rugby player… Here’s what you have to understand, when someone sends you something about a player, obviously that happens a lot. If it’s a college player, I might forward it to Jeff Ireland. If it is a pro player I will forward it to Terry Fontenot.
‘When someone’s recommendation comes, you go about the process every time, knowing that there might be 44 out of 44 where there’s nothing to it, but then on the 45th one, there might be Taysom Hill… In a different way. I’m not making the same comparison. It was an email, a text forwarded. It is easy to work out a player who’s right here. That was kind of it,’ Payton explained.
— Vince Jobo (@VinceJobo91) June 12, 2019
Blewett says he never expected to receive a call-up from an NFL team, but now that he has, he intends to make the most of the opportunity.
‘When I first came over with my coach, I was joking about it, saying ”I’m going to live here to play American football’’, and then two weeks ago when I got the call we both laughed like “it actually happened”,’ he said.
‘ I told my mom a day or two ago, but I think no one back home really knows much of football, and neither do I. So I think as I learn I’ll sort of explain it to them.’