He has done some modelling and acting, but Jaco Booyens wants to be a pro football player after a rugby career in South Africa.
The 30-year-old Johannesburg native, who has worked out for the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL, begins his first training camp today as a punter/kicker candidate for the Argos.
“The Canadian game actually suits a rugby player better because of the size of the field, a couple of the kicking laws and a couple of the tackling rules. It’s very similar,” he said.
“I’ve played professional rugby and done a number of things and been involved in the acting realm and I’ve never met an organization where the guys are so open-minded to really exploring each player’s full potential.”
His chances of cracking the roster are slim because of Noel Prefontaine, who begins his ninth season with Toronto.
“They have Pre. He’s a great kicker, his record speaks for itself and I’m going to do my best in the kicking realm, but I’m going to do what I can on special teams,” he said. “If I can help the Argos in any form, that’ll be great.”
Booyens is listed as a non-import because he has never played organized football. It could work to his advantage for developmental purposes, but Argos assistant general manager Greg Mohns said the neophyte has to prove he can perform under fire.
“The only thing you can do that is to bring him into camp and take a look,” Mohns said. “He has got some ability. The next step is to really evaluate him in a real football situation.”