CFL: Calgary Stampeders sign South African RB Nico Leonard and Australian K/P Gerard Laws

The Calgary Stampeders have become the first team to sign a Global undrafted free agent following the April 15th draft, adding South African running back Nico Leonard and Australian kicker Gerard Laws.

Leonard, 5’11”, 210 pounds, played professional rugby for five seasons in South Africa after a distinguished amateur career that saw him establish his high school’s record for career tries.

The 23-year-old from Victoria, South Africa, had his interest in football and his knowledge of the sport sparked as a youth when he played the Madden video game.

“When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I discovered it here in South Africa just by playing Madden on PlayStation,” Leonard recalls. “That’s basically what started my love for the game and how I learned most of the rules, as well as the players.”

Leonard was ecstatic about the opportunity when he was picked for the CFL Global Draft, though he admits he had little understanding of any league outside of the NFL until his chance to go pro arose.

“I always knew there was football in Canada, because I saw The Rock played in the CFL and all that, I just didn’t know it was that big,” he acknowledges. “Lately, I’ve watched a bunch as I’ve been training. I’ve also been doing a lot of research and just watching the CFL. It’s pretty insane to see how big it is

Laws (five-foot-11, 202 pounds) is a product of the Prokick Australia program. In 2015, the Sydney, Australia native played for the California Sharks in the AAA Professional Football League and from 2016 to 2019, he played for the Sydney Uni Lions, a club team in his native Australia. The 31-year-old is an alumnus of the University of Wollongong and in addition to playing football he has worked in media including a position as digital and social media manager for a professional cricket team in Sydney.

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