Over the years fellow countrymen Tadhg Kennelly has followed suit while on the other side of the spectrum rugby converts like Israel Folau failed to adapt to the chaotic, lung-busting nature of Aussie rules.
Looking back into the archives, there has yet to be a convert hailing from one of Australia's most popular sports and pastimes - swimming. Until, of course, this year.
Takayuki Enomoto started training with the Tokyo Goannas late 2016 and in fact on Grand Final day came to run the water for the team after just hours earlier emerging from the water himself to win his heat in the men's long distance en-route his path to swim for Japan in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Asked about how gained an interest in our great game, he gave a simple answer. "I had been to Australia 4 times. That's when I first knew about AFL. I started to like it because it is so simple and extreme."
And his pick of teams?
"I support West Coast Eagles because the game I saw live the first time was a match where they won".
Despite his unfortunate choice in teams, he proceeded to fall in love with the game the same way we all did, just a bit later in life. So it was that Taka decided he wanted to be an AFL player despite his burgeoning swimming career. He didn't dispatch his swimming commitments altogether, instead tried to make the two schedules fit. Swim training would be on Saturday while Aussie rules took precedence on Sundays.
With plenty of teams to choose from he chose the famous red and white, explaining, "When I found out AFL is also played in Japan, I wanted to play it with Australians".
Playing with Australians also means you get awarded a nickname. Nothing has stuck permanently as yet but 'Grant Takatt' probably takes the cake at the moment. If you're wondering, that is after Grant Hackett, Australia's legendary long-distance swimmer of yesteryear. Feel free to make other suggestions in the comments section!
As this years pre-season kick-started the Goannas 2017 premiership defence, Taka took it on with intensity, determined to overcome the hurdles picking up a new sport presents. "I think controlling the kicking was the most difficult part to master".
Whilst kicking is still a work in progress (like many other players in the team mind!), his marking has proved a feature clunking the pill at its highest point with those sticky mitts. He also counts fellow Goannas and Samurai star Yuji Yamamoto for helping him the most during training although seems to have forgotten his name, referring to him as "Japanese national team reinforcement player".
As round 1 approached, Taka was named in the starting line-up after an impressive pre-season training Futako Tamagawa down. He was given the No 9 jumper with his teammates confident he'll showing fellow number-sake Ben Cousins' prowess on-field but just without the white-line fever.
It was a tough first game as well against the experienced Tokyo Bay Suns. Taka made a solid start tackling and harassing every chance he got, showing some toughness in the contest as well. He certainly didn't look like a first-gamer out there, quickly earning many pats on the bums from his team mate (especially Owen 'Boots' Kearney who is a serial bum patter).
In the last quarter, Taka received a handball and streaked into the forward line before spearing a perfect drop punt through the big sticks for his first ever Aussie rules goal. Pandemonium momentarily broke out as teammates mobbed him from all angles. It was the biggest celebration of a goal since Doug Bonham almost scored one from the boundary last year.
Carried off the field to applause, the rest of the game was played out to a silent procession as concern for Taka's Olympic dream took front and centre of everyone's mind. Iced up and hobbling around afterwards, Taka reassured everybody that he would be ok.
Heartbreakingly, MRI scans later that night did not back up his positivity, informing the team that it was torn ligaments and months of rehab in front of him.
Speaking to Taka afterwards, he was resiliently upbeat which did not surprise anyone who got to know him the past few months. Asked if his parents were upset at him for putting his swimming career in jeopardy by playing a contact sport like Aussie rules, he shook his head. "Actually, my father thinks it is very good that I'm playing AFL. He laughed at my incident and said that it cannot be helped".
So would that be his first and last AFL game?
"Of course not! In my debut game I felt I became a real member of the team so I want to play again with everyone. I want to join the Samurais if possible as well".
That is music to every Goannas ears, and again reaffirms how important camaraderie is to our game. It also certainly bodes well knowing like every elite athlete (except for Pete Chalmers), Taka has himself a long-term goal to join the national team. It will however be a long road to recovery, and Taka himself acknowledges it.
"It will be 3 months before I will be cured and able to start training again so I will not be able to play for a while. I'm excited though to try to get down and support everyone from the sidelines. I want to play with the Goannas more as I like the team and love the members!"
With his no-frills toughness and passion for the game, Aussie Taka is certainly one of our own! We wish him well for his rehab and recovery and look forward to him getting back on the field sooner rather than later to kick a few more of those running sausages!