February 17, 2012
Stamps find help Down Under
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
Scott Crough woke up at 4:30 a.m. Saturday in Brisbane, Australia, thanks to a call from Calgary.
No worries, mate. He was heading out to his job as a painter and interior designer on a sunny day in Oz.
Over the next few months, Crough (pronounced crow) expects to be a bit busy.
He’s getting married in March, will honeymoon in Bali and then will come to Canada in May to hopefully start a CFL career as a punter.
The former Australian Rules Football player is getting a shot with the Calgary Stampeders. Crough was officially signed Friday, and at the same time the team announced it had extended the contract of its Venezuelan placekicker Rene Paredes.
While Crough had a long workday ahead of him, he was extremely chipper about joining the Stamps.
“I have a career change coming up,” Crough said. “They are taking a chance on me. I’m thrilled and grateful.
“I really thought any aspirations of being a professional athlete were gone until I started doing this.”
A couple of years ago, Crough heard about how Australian players were getting looked at as American punters.
He hooked up with ProKick Australia, a group that shows prospects the ins and outs of the American style and helps arrange opportunities.
“After I had a tryout with them, they gave me the averages and distances that were required,” the 31-year-old said. “I was doing that really easily. The hang time and the distance were covered easily.
“They told me, ‘If you can do this consistently, you can definitely play the game.’ Now it’s just a matter of doing it in a game situation.”
Crough managed to get tryouts last year with three NFL teams, but he wasn’t offered a contract during the lockout.
The Stamps found out about him, and had him come up for a look last August. They put him on the negotiation list and have now reached a deal.
Because he’s never played North American football before, Crough is considered a non-import. That helps his chances, as carrying an import punter would hurt the Stampeders’ ratio.
“I fit the criteria, so why not?” Crough said with a laugh about being part of the group of Canadians.
“When I was there, it reminded me a lot of Australia. The people were really nice. I think I would feel at home there for sure.”
Crough will come to Stamps training camp and compete with former first-round draft pick Rob Maver for the punting job.
If he makes the roster, he would be the first Australian player to play in the CFL since Mark Harris suited up for the Montreal Alouettes in 1973.
Harris was a rugby player, so Crough would be the first Aussie rules players to break into the CFL.
The main difference between Aussie rules and the CFL is the punter isn’t on the move, which should make things easier. Crough feels like he’s adapted well already.
“Everyone kicks the ball in Aussie rules,” Crough said. “Some are just better at it than other guys. Growing up, I always had a big kick.
“I never thought about the American game until a few years ago. It’s hopefully going to pay off for me.”
The other difference is the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder won’t be asked to tackle too often.
“I did play Australian rules and it was full contact,” Crough said. “I grew up tackling guys. I have no problem if the returner gets through to lay a tackle.
“To be honest, it’s been a few years since I did tackle anyone, so I would be excited to do that.”
On Twitter @SUNIanBusby