Crikey! LSU punter Brad Wing sure does take a lot of grief for his Australian background.
He doesn’t dress like Crocodile Dundee, he doesn’t slip shrimp on a barbie, and he doesn’t have a pet kangaroo. But his thick Aussie accent is a constant source of amusement for his teammates. And, perhaps grudgingly, for the good-natured Wing as well.
Wing, a redshirt freshman, said even after a year with the Tigers, his teammates haven’t tired of imitating his accent.
“Every day, hasn’t died down at all,” he said.
He recalled a recent encounter with offensive linemen T-Bob Hebert and Will Blackwell in the training room.
“Two of them start and three come in and I look around and 20 of them are ripping on me,” Wing said with a laugh, “and I had no one backing me up so I left.”
It seems pretty much everyone on the team fancies himself an accomplished impressionist.
“Nobody does a good impression,” Wing said. “T-Bob thinks he’s getting there, but he’s not. I tell him he is, but he’s nowhere close.”
Wing said Hebert and quarterback Jordan Jefferson are the most frequent impersonators.
“Now Jordan thinks he’s part Australian,” Wing said. “He’s always imitating me, but he doesn’t do a very good impression.”
When asked if any of his teammates can tell the difference between an Australian accent and a British accent, Wing said, “Nope, no one does.”
Then he corrected himself. “Actually that freshman, (wide receiver) Odell Beckham, he does a pretty decent Australian accent,” Wing said. “I’ve got to give him props for that.”
Wing said even head coach Les Miles, who’s been known to occasionally get tongue-tied even when he’s not faking an accent, has tackled a few words with what he thinks passes for an Aussie accent.
“It’s close,” Wing said. “It’s not bad.”
Miles said he’s picked up some Australian jargon.
“Sometimes there is a language barrier,” Miles said. “Bell means something different to those folks than it does to us. If you give me a bell, that means you called me.”
Though Miles appears to have been a quick study, Wing said some teammates have just stopped asking him to repeat himself or clarify what he’s saying.
“I think they’ve just sort of given up on me,” he said. “They kind of just say, yeah, all right, whatever.”
Wing is from Melbourne, a city with a population of 4 million in and around it that isn’t exactly the exotic setting most associate with Australia.
“Where I grew up it was like 20 minutes from the beach, 20 minutes from the city, 20 minutes from the Outback, so it was sort of in the middle of everywhere,” Wing said. “That’s what most places are like out there, but when you get into the center that’s more just Outback and rural areas.”
But Wing said his teammates - who don’t seem to know the difference between authentic Australia and an Outback Steakhouse - have a lot of misconceptions.
“Pet kangaroos, pet crocodiles, stuff like that,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest thing. They just think kangaroos are hopping around everywhere. I guess it’s sort of like gators here. You don’t see them too often, but if you go certain places you see more of them than in other places.”
Wing said his teammates make specific requests to hear his accent.
“The shrimp on the barbie is hands down the most common one,” Wing said. “We don’t even say that over there.”
He’s also asked to mimic a Foster’s beer commercial and repeat the “knife line” from Crocodile Dundee. You know, when Dundee looks at a mugger’s switchblade and says, in an authentic Australian accent, “that’s not a knife,” then pulls out a large bowie knife and says, “this is a knife.”
“I get told to say that all the time,” Wing said.
Wing has tried to point out that players who have Cajun accents aren’t really in a position to critique his.
“I come back with that,” he said with a laugh, “but there are more Cajuns around here than Australians, so I don’t really have much backup on that one.”
Hebert said he has an “Australian connection” because his sister’s boyfriend is from Australia.
“Very cool guy, Bobby Miller,” Hebert said, pronouncing the name as “Bahbee Milluh” in his faux Australian accent. “I’m going to have to deal with Australians all the time anyway, so I always just mess with (Wing). Sometimes I act like he’s not even speaking English and ask him what language it is.
“It’s all in good fun though. It’s not every day that you have a guy who came from across the world to punt the ball for you.”
Wing, who played Australian Rules Football for 15 years - “ever since I could walk” - before moving to Baton Rouge and punting one season for Parkview Baptist, ultimately hopes his leg will do most of the talking for him.