NFL

Louis Rees-Zammit excited by his NFL hopes following transition from rugby

By Sports Desk February 12, 2024

Louis Rees-Zammit says his American Football dream is “alive” after starting out on the NFL’s International Player Pathway (IPP) following his switch from rugby union.

The Gloucester, Wales and British and Irish Lions wing stunned the world of rugby last month by quitting the sport in an attempt to secure a contract with an NFL team in 2024.

Rees-Zammit has joined the NFL’s intensive 10-week IPP programme in Florida, where he has been training as a wide receiver while also doing some running back drills.

“There’s a lot of transferable skills over from rugby,” Rees-Zammit, 23, told BBC Wales’ Scrum V programme.

“I’m absolutely loving training. My pursuit to be in the NFL is alive and I’m excited to see what the next 10 weeks holds.

“It’s tough to get your head around it a little bit at the start but, as with everything, you get used to it.

“The vision out of the sides (of the helmet) kind of effects things. But I’m getting used to it now and I’ll see what happens.”

Rees-Zammit says 10 international players have joined the IPP, with a pro day held at the end of the programme to determine whether individuals are good enough to make the NFL grade.

He said: “You basically come here and work the game of football on and off the field, in the classroom and training six days a week.

“Ten weeks of intense training to see if your dream becomes a reality.

“It was the hardest decision of my life (to leave rugby), but it was always something I wanted to do, since a young age, and I thought it was the right time.

“If it works out, I have 10 years to try to play the sport I have loved growing up watching or I can come back to rugby and play the sport I love playing.”

Wales have lost their opening two Guinness Six Nations games in Rees-Zammit’s absence, narrow 27-26 and 16-14 defeats to Scotland and England respectively.

“I was jealous of the boys playing and it was in my mind that I was pretty gutted I did not play,” Rees-Zammit said of Wales’ defeat at Twickenham on Saturday.

“The boys put a shift in and just managed to lose, which was tough. They gave it their all.

“Gats (Warren Gatland, Wales head coach) was unbelievable with me when I told him of my decision.

“He asked if it (American Football) did not work what I would be doing and I said obviously I would be coming back to rugby.”

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