ROB Swapshire mastered rugby league at the Booval Swifts from a gridiron background, after representing Kentucky State University.
ROB Swapshire mastered rugby league at the Booval Swifts from a gridiron background, after representing Kentucky State University.

Wildcats star shows you can swap between gridiron and league

AMERICAN FOOTBALL: You can find the opposite of Jarryd Hayne running around on a local footy field in Brisbane.

Like the former rugby league star who's now a San Francisco 49ers star, Rob Swapshire is highly versatile.

He plays defence as a linebacker, hammering anything in sight for the South Brisbane Wildcats.

And when he plays offence as a running back, he is one of the more elusive men to tackle in the Gridiron Queensland competition.

The 28-year-old got as high as representing Kentucky State University at division-two level.

There's one other thing - like Hayne, he once excelled at rugby league, playing for the Booval Swifts in Ipswich at A-grade level.

But unlike watching The Hayne Plane stun all-comers in the NFL, it won't cost you a thing to see the former Webster Groves High School (St Louis) Division 5A star dominate his opponents.

This could be the last season you'll see Swapshire in action though.

"This is going to be my last year and then I want to go into coaching," he said.

You'd back Swapshire to succeed as a coach because of his ability to learn new things on the run, as he proved by picking up rugby league late, and excelling at Ipswich A-grade level.

"I played last year with them, and I first picked up rugby league in 2011," he said.

"I played second row and in the front row.

"It was really different, just remembering to go back 10 metres, and remembering I've got to tackle somebody straight up."

Swapshire has always had a knack for being versatile on the football field, with his attack and defence skills helping him in the 13-man code, after arriving Down Under with his Australian wife, who he met at college.

"I played both ways (attack and defence) in my high-school years, but at college I played fullback/running back," he said.

"I've been following it (Hayne's spectacular rise to the 49ers' playing squad) and watching it because I played league myself."

Swapshire is now trying to impart as much knowledge as he can on the Wildcats' playing group, after learning off former Canadian Football League star Michael Jenkins while at Kentucky State.

Jenkins set the record for the most rushing yards in a season in 2001, with 1484 yards on 271 carries and eight touchdowns as a running back, while at the Toronto Argonauts.

He was also the assistant running backs coach at Kentucky State when Swapshire was there.

"I looked up to him (Jenkins) - he helped me improve when I was there," Swapshire said.

"Now I'm just trying to be a leader here (at the Wildcats) and trying to help the guys improve."


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