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How Jordan Mailata has already inspired the next crop of NFL hopefuls Down Under

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Mailata Effect inspiring Aussie hopefuls (1:45)

Prospects at the NFL International Combine in Australia talk to ESPN about the impact Jordan Mailata's journey has had on their views of an NFL career. (1:45)

As Australia's Jordan Mailata awaits a maiden NFL start, his amazing story has already inspired the next crop of athletes Down Under to pursue a career in American football.

Mailata is reportedly edging closer to a first regular season game for Philadelphia Eagles, after first heading to Los Angeles for a workout last November. From there, the Aussie was invited to train at the IMG Academy in Florida, before the Eagles came calling with their final pick of the 2018 NFL Draft back in April.

It may prove that he waits a little while longer for an NFL snap after suggestions veteran offensive tackle Jason Peters would miss the Eagles' Week 7 game against Carolina, thus potentially opening up a spot for Mailata, were played down by Eagles coach Doug Pedersen. But that has done nothing to dissuade a budding group of Australian athletes -- so too those in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands -- who are already embracing Mailata's story and are now dreaming of joining him on one of the world's biggest sporting stages.

Earlier this month on the Gold Coast, 48 athletes from the Oceania region took part in the first NFL International Combine to be held in Australia; Mailata's rapid rise driving their ambition to carve out a big-time move all their own.

"Yeah it actually did, the Jordan Mailata story - it's a funny story, because I contacted him before he left to IMG and surprisingly he replied to me; I just wished him the best of luck before he went over," David Feliuai, 21, from Brisbane, told ESPN.

Feliuai, who at 183cm [6' 0"] and 95kg [211lbs] could be a wide receiver or defensive back, works for a logistics company, performing warehouse duties such as driving a forklift. Ahead of the International Combine, staged by the NFL in conjunction with Pacific Sports Management, he was keen to pick up whatever knowledge Mailata would unload.

"He went through what he went through and coming to this combine I asked him: 'What are the tips, what are the pointers that can help me hopefully progress through to the NFL?' And he said 'just go in with the mindset of not leaving anything in the tank, giving 110 percent or even 120 percent; just do everything at full pace and give it your best shot'.

"So it was pretty inspiring to hear it from him coming from a rugby background, and coming from where he's come from. It really is a confidence-booster for everyone, for all the boys here and myself as well."

Feliuai, who plays rugby union for the Sunnybank club in Brisbane, was put through the same drills College Football players complete during the official NFL Combine as team scouts look to refine their lists for the Draft. Those drills include the 40-yard sprint, three-cone shuttle and max bench press [100kg, 225lbs] among others.

But he wasn't the only hopeful to impress at the Gold Coast event, nor reveal a close personal link with Mailata. Aaron Pene, 23, of Sydney, described how he was a part of the former Rabbitohs Under-20 forward's junior rugby league career.

Pene -- who impressed with his speed and hands, stands at 189cm [6' 2"] and tips the scales at 104kg [231lbs] -- works as part of Qantas' ground staff at Sydney Airport. Having witnessed Mailata's raw power in the flesh, Pene wasn't at all surprised when the 157kg powerhouse's career took off.

"Growing up, my dad coached his older brother, Daniel, [in rugby league]; I watched Jordan play a few times and I played with Daniel a few times, they're both very, very big people," Pene, who ran a 4.75 for the 40-yard dash, told ESPN. "Coming through [in rugby league], Jordan was flying through of the NRL stages and then he took this opportunity and he's flying now.

"Him, as a person, he would have done whatever it took to make it in either. That's that mentality that you've got to take into these things and that's the mentality that I took into today. That's just the difference between people who make it and who don't make it, unfortunately. But he's a good boy and he's making it work."

For Christian Yassmin, 23, of Sydney, Mailata's story also has resonance. But Yassmin's journey to the Gold Coast was spurred on by younger brother, Thomas, who has taken the more traditional route to American football - a College scholarship.

While 13cm shorter and 11kg lighter than Thomas, Christian Yassmin ran a 4.61 in the 40 yards showing off the speed that made him a promising rugby union winger with famous Sydney club, Randwick.

With a bachelor of medical science and a desire to take on dentistry, Christian is part of one talented family.

"My younger brother, he's on a full scholarship at University of Utah, so it's kind of good having a bit of knowledge in the family; he's given me a few pointers or what not," Yassmin told ESPN. "It's been very helpful.

"He's doing really well. I think physically, they're very happy with how he's progressed and he's a very smart kid. So his game knowledge, I think it's been a bit of a surprise how quickly he's picked it up. But I think he's headed on the right track. As long as he keeps his head in place, I think he'll be good."

Still, Yassmin spoke of how Mailata's story had given each and every one of the 48 athletes on the Gold Coast the self-belief to not only try their luck at the original regional combines -- staged across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa -- but also follow Mailata's path to the IMG Academy in Florida and, from there, a dream spot on an NFL team roster.

"I think it's been wonderful, it's sort of opened up the world to Australian prospects and that there is potential down here," Yassmin said of Mailata's journey. "Definitely, from an athletic point of view and I know that's how Jordan got on [the radar]; you've seen once you get into a system, the three months of training you have there [at the IMG Academy], and now he's been able to progress onto an NFL roster.

"I think it definitely gives a lot of boys [the belief] that it's a realistic goal and there is a good shot. And there's good stock that we have in Australia that could potentially play in what is the biggest sporting league in the world. So it's definitely helped."

After a day's testing, the NFL's combine staff returned to the U.S. to break down their data and discuss which athletes may have the potential to play American football. ESPN will have exclusive details of who made the cut in the coming weeks.