By Brian Lowe, Date: 16/1/17
Player Profile: Nick Newlin
Player: Nick Newlin
Club: Atlanta Rhinos
City: Atlanta, Georgia
Photo credit: McClainPhotos.com
Welcome to RugbyLeaguePlanet.com’s first American player profile. As this is our first look at a player in the United States, and indeed our first player profile for 2017, we thought it appropriate to kick things off by checking out a guy who has captained his national team.
Nick Newlin debuted as skipper of the USA Hawks in 2016 and what a year he had leading them to victory in the inaugural Rugby League Americas Championship, as well as the annual Colonial Cup series against Canada, giving him an enviable 3-0 record as a rookie captain.
28-year old Newlin hails from the small town of Port Washington, north of Milwaukee in the state of Wisconsin. He grew up there and only left when he joined the United States Marine Corps (USMC). He moved to Atlanta after his service ended in 2012.
A relative newcomer to Rugby League, he started playing in 2014 after going to an open camp for the inaugural season of USA Rugby League’s (USARL) new franchise the Atlanta Rhinos. The club is now part of the expanded South Conference in the USARL’s domestic competition.
At the end of his first season in the game, Newlin was named in his first select side, the USA Pioneers. The squad is made up entirely of USARL South Conference players. They played the New Zealand Police Rugby League representative side at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand, Florida, in September 2014.
He made his debut for the USA Hawks one year later in September 2015 in the first Colonial Cup match of that year against Canada. As mentioned above, he was named captain of the Hawks in July 2016 when they opened the Americas Championship against Jamaica. He then captained the US in the next two games against the Canadian Wolverines.
So what is Newlin’s take on the state of Rugby League in America as we go into a World Cup year?
“I can feel Rugby League in America gaining traction and a new audience is being introduced now more than ever,” he told RLP. “Not only with the winning of the Qualifiers in 2015 to put the USA in the RLWC2017, but all of the news regarding the US and Canada being awarded the RLWC in 2025.”
The skipper also firmly believes Rugby League in the United States can expect to get a shot in the arm from the national team competing at the World Cup.
“The USARL should, in my opinion, see a large increase in participants, as well as better competition as we go into the RLWC year,” said Newlin.
“Athletes who may have not have known what Rugby League is in the past, or maybe have looked past it, have begun to take notice as they see it as a great way to showcase their talents and possibly represent their country on the grandest of stages. Maybe not for the 2017 WC, but for future World Cups.
“We still are third in the eyes of Rugby fans in the USA as the 7s game has become very popular and Union 15s still gets the most attention.
“However, with the USARL now entering its seventh season, fans around the world have begun to take notice of Rugby League in the USA and with the Toronto Wolfpack making waves around the world with its inclusion in League 1, I foresee our sport growing tremendously here in America in 2017.”