Pittsburgh punter Brad Wing is set to be the only Australian playing when the NFL season kicks off in the US this week.
When Tom Hornsey’s phone rings, his heart skips a beat.
The 25-year-old punter from Geelong was cut by the Dallas Cowboys last week, but he’s hopeful one of the other 31 NFL teams will be looking to sign him.
The 2014-15 NFL season opens on Thursday (Friday AEST) with the Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks hosting the Green Bay Packers.
“It’s just a matter of waiting to see what happens, particularly after this first round,” said Hornsey, who has returned to Tennessee where he was named college football’s top punter last season while starring for the University of Memphis.
“Some teams may be looking for a new punter.”
Australia was set to enter a new era in the NFL with Hornsey and three other young guns expected to take the stage in America’s most popular sport this season.
Then a mixture of injury, the cut-throat reality of the NFL and a US citizenship ceremony scuttled the party for Australia.
Brad Wing looks like being the only fully-fledged Australian to play in the first round, although there is some speculation he could be cut after an inconsistent pre-season.
The 23-year-old punter’s Pittsburgh Steelers play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday (Monday AEST).
Jesse Williams, the big defensive tackle from Queensland known as Tha Monstar, suffered another serious pre-season knee injury and will likely miss his second consecutive season with the Super Bowl-winning Seahawks.
David Yankey, the Sydney-born offensive guard for the Minnesota Vikings, survived the pre-season cuts.
But, earlier this year Yankey became a US citizen.
His family left Sydney when he was eight, moved to Georgia and then he became a key player for west coast college power Stanford University.
Hornsey said his two-week stint with the Cowboys only made him hungrier to play in the NFL.
The Cowboys brought Hornsey in to pit him against the team’s starter Chris Jones, and the Australian knew it would be tough to steal the punting job.
Hornsey said it wasn’t his punting that got him cut, but Jones had experience at holding the ball for the Cowboys’ kicker.
“I knew the situation in Dallas was going to be tough because their punter had a good year last year and he’s a good holder for the field goals,” Hornsey said.
“They didn’t want to break up the chemistry of that.”
Two other Australian punters, former AFL star Saverio Rocca and Mat McBriar, who played for the Cowboys, are also hoping to find a team.
Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos are favourites to win the Super Bowl after falling short last season, while Las Vegas oddsmakers have Seattle as second favourites and Tom Brady’s New England Patriots third.