WODONGA defender Josh Bartel has quit the Bulldogs to pursue a gridiron career in the US.
Bartel underwent a trial under punting coach Nathan Chapman in Melbourne last week and has another session planned with the former Brisbane Lions player in coming days.
The prodigious right-footer told Wodonga coach Jarrod Twitt of his plans on Thursday night.
“It’s only early days, but I had a kick with Nathan Chapman in Melbourne and went all right and will go down again next weekend to see how I go,” Bartel said.
“I told Wodonga the other night that I couldn’t play footy any more this season as Nathan wants me to start mucking around more with the different ball.
“I might as well have a go at it.”
Former Hawthorn premiership player Trent Croad also took part and is one of a handful of players training in Melbourne who are pushing for a spot in trials in the US in March.
Bartel, who is rated as the longest kick in the Ovens and Murray along with North Albury star Damian Cupido, first thought of trying gridiron last year.
Former AFL players Sav Rocca, Ben Graham and Darren Bennett have been successful as punters in the National Football League in recent years, while Australian Mat McBriar is the highest-paid punter in the league with the Dallas Cowboys.
He signed a five-year, $8.5 million contract in 2007.
“Last year I was kicking all right and on Mad Monday ‘Twitty’ actually said I should think about it,” he said.
“I have to sit down with Nathan (Chapman) and plan a program and just see where it takes me.
“I’ll know a bit more about how I’m going in a couple of weeks.”
Chapman, who was one of few Australians to be contracted at the top level in both the AFL and NFL, is director and coach of Prokick Australia with former NFL and CFL free agent placekicker John Smith.
ProKick Australia is an American Football punting and placekicking school in Australia which trains and assesses Australians to the standard required for NFL punting positions.
O and M reports — pages 116-117