NFL International Player Pathway spotlight: Etuale Junior Vinny Lui, DL, New Zealand

Of this year’s 11 players selected for the NFL International Player Pathway Program only one New Zealander represents his country. Unsurprisingly, the country’s lone NFL prospect this year is a former Rugby standout with toughness, size, and physicality in former Kiwi national team player Etuale Junior Vinny Lui.

Instituted in 2017, the NFL International Player Pathway program aims to give elite international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills, and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster.

So far, the program has helped players such as Jordan Mailata (Philadelphia Eagles/Australia), Sammis Reyes (Chicago Bears/Chile), and Jakob Johnson (New England Patriots/Germany) earn roster spots in the NFL.

Vinny Lui is an athletic big body who has played rugby for several years. In 2019, Vinny Lui was named to New Zealand’s junior national rugby team which is a huge accolade considering the size of the sport in the country.

He also suited up for the Parramatta Eels junior club, one of the top rugby programs in the country. Most recently he played for Queensland Cup team Wynnum Manly.

The 21-year-old, has no American football experience, but has played at the highest level of New Zealand’s rugby scene. He will look to follow in the footsteps of Philadelphia Eagles and NFL IPP alum Jordan Mailata who also had no football experience before joining the NFL IPP.

The versatile lineman was invited to the NFL International Combine in London, England in October, where he took part in both offensive line and defensive line drills earning praise from several coaches around the program.

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and