'Aussie battler' eyes Super Bowl history with 49ers

Melanie Dinjaski
February 11 2024 - 5:30am

When Super Bowl 58 kicks off on Monday morning Australian time, there'll be one player representing the land Down Under with a shot at making history that has so far eluded his countrymen.

Mitch Wishnowsky is the San Francisco 49ers punter and kick-holder vying to become the first Australian to play in and win a Super Bowl, in a remarkable journey that would be fitting of a Hollywood script.

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In a former life back in WA, Wishnowsky was a glazier who grew up playing Aussie Rules and soccer.

When the self-described "Aussie battler" decided the tradie life wasn't all it was cracked up to be, he found another career.

Prokick Australia run by former AFL star Nathan Chapman helped Wishnowsky land a US college scholarship as a punter and then in 2019 he was drafted into the NFL, earning millions of dollars playing for the 49ers.

In his rookie year Wishnowsky actually had his first chance at claiming a Super Bowl ring, but the 49ers fell short against the Kansas City Chiefs in a stinging loss.

Aussie 49ers punter Mitch Wishnowsky. Picture Getty Images
Aussie 49ers punter Mitch Wishnowsky. Picture Getty Images

Now the 31-year-old and his San Francisco teammates are up against Chiefs in the NFL decider once more, and after the heartbreak of 2020, victory is firmly on the agenda.

"Last time my mentality was 'don't mess up' and I was scared of the moment," Wishnowsky told The Canberra Times before the Super Bowl.

"Now, I've found ways to manage that and I'll be able to enjoy it, and take it all in.

"I wouldn't say there's more or less pressure - it's the same. It's a dream to win the Super Bowl and it's a great opportunity.

"The Chiefs are a good team, but it would mean everything to get the win."

Mitch Wishnowsky is called upon for punts and kick-holding. Picture Getty Images
Mitch Wishnowsky is called upon for punts and kick-holding. Picture Getty Images

The difference to four years ago at his last Super Bowl tilt was that Wishnowsky is now a dad with wife Maddie.

Having a family of his own is an extra source of motivation and also makes the chance at achieving an Australian sporting first more meaningful to him.

"Becoming a dad changes your perspective on everything," Wishnowsky said.

"Representing Australia is something I may not have thought of before, but now I've got a daughter, I want parts of my culture to be for her as well.

"Australia Day wasn't long ago and we were listening to We Are Australian and dancing.

"It makes this game a little more special for sure."

Despite the Chiefs aiming to win back-to-back Super Bowls, it's the 49ers who are favourites.

If they're to prove the bookmakers correct, Wishnowsky said San Francisco's young, underrated quarterback Brock Purdy will be the key, as well as their elite defensive unit

"Brock is amazing. He's Mr Irrelevant - the last pick of the draft - not many people believed in him, and he's still copping it now," the punter said.

"I think it's incredible what he's doing. His confidence and how humble he is, I'm a big Brock Purdy fan."

AT A GLANCE

Super Bowl LVIII: Kansas City Chiefs v San Francisco 49ers at Las Vegas, Monday 10.30am. TV: Live on Seven and 7plus.

Melanie Dinjaski

Melanie Dinjaski

Sports Reporter

Melanie Dinjaski is an experienced sports journalist at the Canberra Times with a genuine love of all sports. She's covered every code from NRL to NFL, and has experience in print, digital, podcasting, TV and video journalism, having spent time working in newsrooms at Nine, Fox Sports and Seven before moving to the capital. Melanie aims to bring Canberrans all the sports news they need to know - have a story worth sharing? Get in touch!