Growing up in Kempsey with aspirations to become a professional baseball player, Jarrod Saul had no idea he would one day represent the German national rugby sevens side.
Saul was 18 when he put his baseball bat aside and laced his footy boots for the first time.
“Travelling to Sydney every weekend to play baseball was taking up too much of my time. I was entering year 12 and needed to study for my HSC,” Saul told the Argus.
“I still wanted to participate in a local sport and a few mates from school played league and union so I gave it a go and loved it.”
Despite his late start to the contact sports, he excelled representing local sides the Kempsey Cannonballs in rugby union and the Macleay Valley Mustangs in rugby league.
Three years later, while playing socially with Cannonballs players at the Port Macquarie Cup, he was asked by teammate Billy Yabsley if he would be interested in a stint with SC Germania List, a German rugby union side that competes in the national top tier.
SC Germania was coached by Kempsey Cannonball stalwart Allan Nugent at the time.
After much deliberation, Saul came to the conclusion he would take a leap of faith and flew to Germany on November 18, 2013.
“Originally I only planned to be here (Germany) for six months but it turned into three and a half years to date,” Saul said.
Three days after landing in Germany, he played his first game for SC Germania and excelled over the next two seasons before disaster struck.
Saul broke his foot on three separate occasions during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
“It was really hard and disheartening time for me,” Saul said.
“I barely got a game in over those two years.”
Throughout this tough period, he was informed he would be eligible to represent Germany after three years of living in the country and the discovery pushed him during his rehab.
“I set myself a goal to make the team and I knew it would take a lot of hard work and training but it gave me something to set my mind towards,” Saul said.
It wasn’t long until injuries were behind the 25-year-old and he was selected into the German Sevens side, rewarded for his improving performances and consistency with SC Germania.
He played the house down in his first tournament, scoring five tries in six games and received player of the tournament honours for the German team.
The former Kempsey St Paul’s College student is hopeful he will help lead the German side into the HSBC Sevens World Series.
“My current goal is to keep my position in the national team and to be selected for the Hong Kong tournament in 2018,” Saul said.
“To qualify for the Sevens World Series, we need to win the Hong Kong Sevens Series Qualifiers tournament.
“It happens yearly and this year the boys just missed out and finished second.”
Saul credits his ability to transition into the German lifestyle to the comfort he received from Allan Nugent and his wife Robyn and his best mate growing up Sam Hayes who joined SC Germania after his first season.
“Allan and Robyn looked after me so well and treated me like their son. They would do anything for me and I would do the same,” the German international said.
“I was lucky enough to play in another country alongside my best mate which gave us the chance to travel around Europe together over an 11 month period.
“The continued support from my mum and dad over the years, who have been a part of everything, has really kept me going.”
Saul also expressed gratitude towards his entire family, Yabsley and Jared Fuller from the Cannonballs for organising his arrival at SC Germania.