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Premiership Rugby

Cohen weighing up gridiron move

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

The Sun reports that Cohen – who starred for England in their November Tests clean sweep – has caught the eye of the NFL's chief scout in Europe, Tony Allen, and the player himself is not ruling out an eventual switch to the highly lucrative code.

"You can never say never and the money those guys earn is astonishing. That would be a big factor," Cohen told The Sun.

"However, in the short term I am signed to Northampton until May 2005 and there are many things I still want to achieve in rugby – silverware with the Saints, a Six Nations Championship Grand Slam and, of course, the World Cup.

"That's where my immediate focus is. But in two years' time I would still be only 26. Who knows what might happen? You can never rule out anything in life."

NFL scout Allen added: "At 6ft 2in and 220lb, and with his size and speed, he would appear to have great potential as a wide receiver. He could even be versatile and tough enough to play on defence and develop into a linebacker.

"At the age of 24, he is roughly the same age as an NFL rookie. When you look at a guy like Jerry Rice [veteran former San Francisco star] at approaching 40, Ben still has plenty of time to adjust to a new sport."

Cohen is the latest in a long line of players to be linked with a move stateside, another recent one being Béziers' Argentine kicking star Gonzalo Quesada, who impressed, among others, New Orleans Saints scouts with his punting and field goal abilities during a training camp in August.

One name perennially mentioned in connection with a move to gridiron is All Black wing Jonah Lomu, although the big Hurricane has yet to decide where his next move lies after the Rugby World Cup this year.

Springbok legend Naas Botha was one of the first big names to try and make a go of it in the NFL when he tried out for the Dallas Cowboys during South Africa's sporting isolation years, but the Northern Transvaal superstar never made it with the famous Texas outfit.

By Mark Smith

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