Louis Rees-Zammit: I achieved everything I wanted in rugby

Louis Rees-Zammit catches the ball
Kansas City Chiefs are planning to use Louis Rees-Zammit as a kick-returner and running back - AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Former Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit has claimed he “achieved everything I wanted to in rugby” before he made his sensational switch to NFL, where he is stepping up his bid to feature for Kansas City Chiefs.

Rees-Zammit left rugby union on the verge of the Six Nations earlier this year, informing Gloucester, his club, and Wales of his decision to take up an approach from the NFL’s International Player Pathway.

The 23-year-old has begun to assert himself in training sessions with his franchise, who have won the past two Super Bowls. During a recent three-day camp for Kansas City rookies, players in their first year, he caught a pass and accelerated away from defenders.

Kansas City are reportedly intending to use him as a running back and as a kick-off returner. Patrick Mahomes, their star quarterback, has already joined Rees-Zammit for work-outs this off-season.

During a press conference on Monday, Rees-Zammit suggested that he was content with his career in rugby union. By the age of 22, he had already represented Wales, winning the Six Nations in 2021, and toured with the British and Irish Lions that summer.

Last year, he featured at the World Cup, where he took his Test tally to 14 tries. The move to the NFL, though, fulfils a long-held dream.

“Growing up as a kid I always watched [the NFL],” said Rees-Zammit. “Every Sunday I’d be staying up late. Obviously the time difference is five or six hours, so it’d be the early hours of the morning for me.

“My dad’s a massive role model for me and a mentor, so it was more about when I was going to do it and I achieved everything I wanted to in rugby, so now was the perfect time.”

Rees-Zammit relished an opportunity to “dive deep into the playbook” and hailed the rookie mini-camps as a “great” experience.

“Rugby is very free-flowing unless you get a set piece,” he told reporters. “That’s when you call a play. So there’s probably 20 to 30 plays a game, whereas here [in American football], you’re talking hundreds. So it’s been interesting to learn a playbook.”

Chances to open his stride will not be too common, but Rees-Zammit will be hoping that Andy Reid, the Kansas City coach famed for his innovative play design, will be able to include him in effective schemes.

“When there’s open field, I feel like I’m playing rugby again,”‘ Rees-Zammit said. “I can use my awareness when I am in space. Then that’s when I can cause the most damage.”

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