Calgary Stampeders' Nik Lewis catches a ball during the first day of training camp in Calgary on Sunday.

Calgary Stampeders' Nik Lewis catches a ball during the first day of training camp in Calgary on Sunday.

Aussie punter getting good look at Stampeders camp

The Calgary Stampeders opened training camp with an Australian painter trying out at kicker. Scott Crough has a powerful leg from years of playing Australian rules football. He’s trying to learn the Canadian game on the fly while shaking off heavy jet lag from his arrival in the country last week.

CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders opened training camp with an Australian painter trying out at kicker.

Scott Crough has a powerful leg from years of playing Australian rules football. He’s trying to learn the Canadian game on the fly while shaking off heavy jet lag from his arrival in the country last week.

“I’m trying to get my head around it more and more every day,” Crough said Sunday. “It’s good to get some live snaps today and get a feel for it.

“I didn’t kick so well. I think I’ve got the bad ones out now, so it’s all good. I’m still a little bit raw, obviously and need to refine everything from the snap to the kick.”

Crough (pronounced Crow) is a fun subplot to the more traditional discussion points of Calgary’s training camp. The housepainter from Melbourne is competing with Rob Maver for the job of punter.

How Drew Tate will assert himself during a full season at starting quarterback and how the glut of linebackers will be resolved were some other trending topics at McMahon Stadium on the first day of camp.

The absence of quarterback Henry Burris and running back Joffrey Reynolds was glaring because they’ve been such fixtures at training camp over the years. Burris was traded to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in January after seven seasons as starting QB while eight-year veteran Reynolds was released outright.

But the Stampeder lineup otherwise looks similar to the one that finished 11-7 and lost in the West Division semifinal to the Edmonton Eskimos last season

Slotback Nik Lewis’s 30th birthday Sunday coincided with the start of his ninth training camp in Calgary. He acknowledged not having Reynolds around felt strange, but pointed out there are still several familiar faces on offence, including receivers Ken-Yon Rambo and running back Jon Cornish.

“It does feel a little different, but it’s a fresh start,” Lewis said. “The defence is still out there flying around, the fact that Drew played last year, you look around the huddle and everybody is still the same pretty much.

“I don’t think we have too many rookies on offence. Everybody has been here for a couple of years.”

Calgary hosts Edmonton on June 15 and plays Saskatchewan on June 20 in pre-season games before opening at home July 1 against the Montreal Alouettes.

Stampeder head coach and general manager John Hufnagel acquired veteran Kevin Glenn in the Hamilton trade as backup and insurance behind Tate. He also brought a multitude of linebackers for insurance at that position, with six trying out in the middle and another six on the weakside.

“Our linebackers last year . . . we were decimated at the position because of injuries so I tried to get as much competition at that position as possible,” Hufnagel explained. “We have to find out who not only has ability, but who has durability.”

Crough, 31, played the Australian version of football at a senior regional level. His brother Justin played at the highest level in the AFL with Hawthorn. Crough, Rob Maver of Guelph, Ont., and Montreal’s Rene Paredes are the three kickers in Calgary’s camp. Long-time Stampeder punter Burke Dales signed with Edmonton in the off-season.

Maver, making a bid for both kicking and punting duties, was injured in the first game of last season and didn’t play again. Calgary quickly signed Paredes, who made a seamless transition from university football to the professional ranks by kicking a 50-yard field-goal in his first game.

“It’s a three-way competition right now,” special teams coach Mark Killam said. “Scott is competing with Rob for the punting job, but all three of our kickers are competing every day. They know what the situation is, they know what we’re looking for and I think it’s going to be one of those exciting battles in camp.”

Crough isn’t the only punter from Down Under at a CFL training camp. Josh Bartel is on Hamilton’s training-camp roster.

The two men know each other well. Crough says they were roommates in the United States last summer while waiting for the NFL lockout to end and for opportunities to try out in that league.

“We talk quite a bit because we’re doing the same things on the same days basically,” Crough said. “He’s a really good friend and I hope he does well and makes the team.”

When the Calgary Stampeders found out Crough was on the continent last summer, they put him through a workout, added him to their negotiation list and then signed him in February. Australians are classified as non-imports, which also made Crough attractive to Calgary.

“It’s a bit of a loophole, I guess, for us to be considered Canadian, but I’m happy to run with it,” Crough said.

Accurate field and goalkicking is crucial in Australian football, which are transferable skills to punting in the CFL. Hufnagel described the leg power of the six-foot-four, 220-pound Crough as unbelievable.

“He’s a true two-step power punter,” Killam said. “He can hit the ball on the move. He’s used to fielding a football and getting a kick off in a short amount of time.”

Crough will have to get accustomed to taking the snap and getting a kick away against the rush. If he can do that and earn a job, Crough plans to bring his new wife Denae to Canada. They were married March 31.

“It’s good to be doing this for a job,” he said. “I missed my chance back home at the top level. In some ways I’ve got another chance at playing at a top-level sport.

“To me, it’s a great opportunity. I hope I don’t let the Stamps down. They’ve shown a lot of faith in me to get me over here.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,183 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

50.5% of all active cases are variants of concern

Whistle Stop Cafe owner Christopher Scott and his sister Melodie pose for a photo at the Mirror restaurant. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Alberta Health Services delivers ‘closure order’ to Mirror restaurant

Alberta Health Services says it has delivered a closure order to a… Continue reading

Flags bearers hold the Canadian flag high during the Flags of Remembrance ceremony in Sylvan Lake in this October file photo. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
New project to pay tribute to Canadians killed in Afghanistan

Flags of Remembrance scheduled for Sept. 11

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta vaccine rollout expanding to front-line health-care workers

More than 240,000 eligible health-care workers can begin booking vaccine appointments starting… Continue reading

File photo
Security and police block the entrance to GraceLife Church as a fence goes up around it near Edmonton on Wednesday April 7, 2021. The Alberta government has closed down and fenced off a church that has been charged with refusing to follow COVID-19 health rules. Alberta Health Services, in a statement, says GraceLife church will remain closed until it shows it will comply with public-health measures meant to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hundreds gather to support Alberta church shut down for ignoring COVID-19 orders

SPRUCE GROVE, Alta. — Hundreds of people are gathered outside an Alberta… Continue reading

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces is developing contingency plans to keep COVID-19 from affecting its ability to defend the country and continue its missions overseas amid concerns potential adversaries could try to take advantage of the crisis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian special forces supported major Iraqi military assault on ISIL last month

OTTAWA — Some Canadian soldiers supported a major military offensive last month… Continue reading

A woman pays her repects at a roadblock in Portapique, N.S. on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. The joint public inquiry in response to the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia has announced a mandate that includes a probe of the RCMP response as well as the role of gender-based violence in the tragedy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Creating permanent memorial to Nova Scotia mass shooting victims a delicate task

PORTAPIQUE, N.S. — Creating a memorial for those killed in Nova Scotia’s… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Erin O’Toole says ‘I didn’t hide who I was’ running for Conservative leader

OTTAWA — Erin O’Toole assured Conservative supporters that he never hid who… Continue reading

Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau, second from left, celebrates his goal with teammates, from left to right, Matthew Tkachuk, Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson, of Sweden, during second period NHL hockey action against the Edmonton Oilers, in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Jacob Markstrom earns shutout as Flames blank Oilers 5-0 in Battle of Alberta

CALGARY — It took Sean Monahan breaking out of his goal-scoring slump… Continue reading

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia's opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan's government, but they say Monday's throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province's economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

VICTORIA — British Columbia’s opposition parties acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented… Continue reading

A grizzly bear walks on a treadmill as Dr. Charles Robbins, right, offers treats as rewards at Washington State University's Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center in this undated handout photo. Grizzly bears seem to favour gently sloping or flat trails like those commonly used by people, which can affect land management practices in wild areas, says an expert who has written a paper on their travel patterns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Anthony Carnahan *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Grizzly bears prefer walking on gentle slopes at a leisurely pace like humans: study

VANCOUVER — Grizzly bears seem to favour gently sloping or flat trails… Continue reading

FILE - In this July 27, 2020, file photo, nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y. Moderna said Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, its COVID-19 shot provides strong protection against the coronavirus that's surging in the U.S. and around the world. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)
The COVID-19 wasteland: searching for clues to the pandemic in the sewers

OTTAWA — When Ottawa Public Health officials are trying to decide whether… Continue reading

Most Read