William James – From Australian Stables to Canadian Combines

William James is attempting a different path into the CFL

In 2018 William James decided it was time for a change in his life. The swedish sportsman decided to venture from playing American Football in Germany to playing Rugby in Australia.

William James Dresden Monarchs
William James saying goodbye to Germany on his private Instagram

From Germany to Australia

Will spent the previous 3 years from 2016 through 2018 playing American Football in arguably the best league outside of Northern America and besides Japan. The GFL (German Football League). As an important part of the Dresden Monarchs Defense he lead the team in 2017 with 118 total tackles. Although he had to render that title to LB standout AJ Wentland in 2018 he still recorded 86 total tackles and added a team high of 6 interceptions and 2 recovered fumbles.
There was no sign of William James slowing down football wise and still he felt the need for a change in his life. Having known Will for 2 years at the time it was tangible that he had come to a point, where he wasn’t happy anymore doing the things he’s always done. Nothing particular was going wrong but he wasn’t heading in the right direction either.

In personal conversations he told me that he felt like moving in circles. Coming to Germany in early spring, playing football through summer, going home in autumn, trying to make some money, traveling around a bit and starting all over next spring.

“I feel like I don’t know anymore, where all this is going or if it’s going anywhere at all. I think I just need a change of pace. Doing something new somewhere new. It’s time to be an adult and grow up”

During his visit to Australia and teammate Alan Steinohrt before the 2018 season kicked off he took part in a Rugby League Tournament. The seed for the idea was planted and after the season had come to an end he decided that Australia was as good as any place to start something new.

“After my 2018 season I felt like I needed a change in my life and decided that Australia is a suitable place to try something new and explore the rugby world there.”

Arriving in Australia

Fresh in Australia Will met up with former Monarchs teammate Marcos Delana, who helped him find a team. He played a full season with a Rugby Union and a Rugby League team, worked as a scaffolder in Sydney to pay his expenses and the year went by. Eventually he was facing the termination of his visa stay.
Australia offers the option to extend ones visa if you agree to do “regional work”, which is usually out in rural areas of the country. Not long and William James was lucky enough to find work through a website recommended by a friend.

“So I packed my bags. Together with a Norwegian friend we drove down to Euroa, Victoria, an 8 hour drive from Sydney, and started working in these race stables.”

Working at the stables

Wills daily life had changed all over again and a typical day would look like this now. In his own words: “Wake up 7am, eat a big breakfast, read (usually soemthing about training) 9am, head off to work that starts at 9:30am. We start the day by mucking out for all the horses and driving a tractor around to pick up what the horses had “left behind”. After that we head off to lunch around 12. After lunch we usually swam the horses in a pool or we put them on walkers for their afternoon exercise. Daily duties include swimming, walking, treadmilling, grooming and washing the horses.
After work I’d go home, eat something light, go workout for usually 1.5-2 hours depending on the day, go home, eat again, chill or work on a side project, sleep and do it all over again.”

William James riding
William James at the stables (private Instagram)


The CFL Combine

Around the start of December Will found out about the Combine. The Swedish Amercian Football Organization had sent him a mail asking if he’s willing to participate. But there were a few questions on logistics left to answer, like what the financial situation would look like in case you proceeded in the process towards the CFL.
Just weeks prior he had helped in putting together an 8 week personal workout regimen for yet another former Monarchs teammate, Micky Kyei, who was already getting in shape for said Combine. After all questions had been answered, Will decided to pull the trigger and bought a plane ticket.

“The CFL actually had a reliable and solid plan that didn’t involve burning all my savings essentially. With that I decided it was one of those things you gotta do or you’ll regret missing the chance.”

Barely 4 weeks out of the combine William James did everything in his power to adjust his workout regimen to get ready for the combine. His efforts proved to be worth the while as he impressed at the combine. He benched 225 pounds 16 times and showed an explosion that caught the eye of the scouts.

“One of the things that caught our interest was his demeanor,” said Director of International Scouting Greg Quick. “He was very focused the entire time. His consistency throughout the testing was also apparent. He has the skills to translate to special teams which is so important in the CFL.”

What’s next

The CFL Combine with talent from all over Europe will take place in Torronto, Canada the 24th of March. Will is currently working hard and preparing for that day back in Australia.
I’d like to wish him all the best and that bit of luck it sometimes takes to make the leap. He really deserves it.

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