Jet aiming to take USA punt
AT about 5.20pm each Tuesday and Thursday at North Ipswich, you can find Ipswich Jets players staring skyward in the hope of catching objects plummeting from a great height.
Sometimes they get lucky, many don't, while some abort their attempt in order to preserve their personal safety.
It isn't easy catching a Khan Ahwang bomb.
Ipswich players have known that since Ahwang joined the club last season.
But when Jets US recruits Jason Rego, Michael Garvey and Joshua Rice saw what Ahwang was capable of doing to a rugby league ball, they knew there might be a higher calling for the 22-year-old.
They have convinced him he has a future as a punter in the US NFL (National Football League).
"The American boys suggested it and I went along with it," Ahwang said.
"We're going to make a video soon. I've got a talent so I may as well put it to good use."
Rice thinks Ahwang has what it takes to make it in the NFL.
"We had an Aussie kicker when I was with UH (University of Hawaii)," the former American footballer said.
"He was an Aussie Rules player from Western Australia.
"I think Khan's boot is as big, if not bigger. It's all about hang time and accuracy."
To kick in the NFL, a kicker has to consistently kick the ball 45-50m on the full and keep it in the air for at least five seconds.
It is no problem for Ahwang, who says his ability to kick a footy great distances has been with him "for as long as I can remember".
The secret, according to the fullback, is "just the way you spiral it really".
Having long legs doesn't hurt either, as the 196cm Ahwang can attest.
The lanky fullback says he has kicked a ball 75m before, with a slight tail wind, but has no problem getting it 55-60m on the full most times.
Ahwang maintains he is "fairly serious" about pursuing a career in NRL, having enjoyed watching the sport for years.
"We'll see how we go after emailing the video (to NFL clubs)," he said.
"I'm not sure really. I'm just throwing it into the wind."
Much as he does with his massive punts.
If given the opportunity, Ahwang has little doubt he could reproduce his form in the high-pressure environment of the NFL, much as fellow Australians Darren Bennet, Sav Rocca and Ben Graham have done before him. They are all former Aussie Rules players. But Ahwang thinks he may even have an advantage over Aussie Rules kickers.
"I reckon I would go well," he said. "It's a similar sort of pressure to kicking on the last tackle (in rugby league)."
Punters take no part in the play other than when they kick the ball, which may be only a few times in a game.
Ahwang has no concerns he might find it a bit limiting.
"No, I'll love it," he said.
"I've always wanted to be part of the NFL. I just like the game."
In the meantime, Ahwang's more immediate goal is to break into the Jets' top side.
Originally from Mackay, Ahwang has had stints with Redcliffe and Mackay, playing a handful of Queensland Cup games.
He will play for the Jets FOGS Cup team against Souths Logan tomorrow.
"I want to get a start in Q Cup and take it further," he said.
"My form's been pretty good.
"I'm just back from a broken hand but am finding some confidence."
Favourite player: Greg Inglis
Key to a great punt: Just practice and hitting it in the sweet spot.