The former Wales winger has given a glimpse into how his life has changed since deciding to chase his NFL dream
Louis Rees-Zammit has set his sights on becoming a Super Bowl champion after quitting rugby union to pursue his American football dream.
On the day Warren Gatland was set to announce his Wales squad for this year’s Six Nations, Rees-Zammit caused a stir by revealing he had decided to join the NFL’s international player pathway in the hope of landing a contract ahead of the 2024 season, which begins in early September.
Although shocking, it’s not the first time a rugby player has made the switch, with the speedy winger, who is nicknamed Rees Lightning, following in the footsteps of the likes of Alex Gray and Christian Wade.
But the 23-year-old does hope to make more of an impression than those who came before him.
Rees-Zammit Super Bowl dream
“In the next five years I want to be a Super Bowl champ,” he told BBC Sport.
“These are very much dreams but I’m desperate for these things to happen. And I want to be an inspiration for anyone coming through the IPP, and any international player that wants to get through to the NFL.”
Rees-Zammit has already begun his 10-week training programme in Florida and admitted he has loved learning the sport’s nuances and the individualistic nature of the training.
“You basically come here and work the game of football on and off the field, in the classroom and training six days a week,” he added.
“Training is completely different. You’re using completely different muscles that you wouldn’t use in rugby. Even the soreness is different.
“I’d probably say the most challenging thing is how much you have to learn. The classroom stuff is full-on. I’m loving learning a completely different sport – the rules, the positions, special teams.”
In rugby, Rees-Zammit was considered one of the best wingers in the world and is hoping to lean on his attributes to become an effective wide receiver or running back in time for March, when he will be assessed by NFL scouts.
Whatever happens, though, and for however long he is out of rugby, whether it be one year, two years, 10 years, Wales will be a weakened proposition. Knowing that, he stressed that it wasn’t a something he took lightly.
“It was always something I wanted to do, since a young age, and I thought it was the right decision,” he continued. “I sat down with my family and went through everything and came to the decision I wanted to do it when I was still young.
“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.”
His drastic career change certainly split opinion. There were some who praised his bravery and confidence but there was also no shortage of derision, which spilled into anger at times.
“I try not to look at the haters and all the criticism I get. It’s just head down and get on with the job,” Rees-Zammit said.
“There’s negative comments, but I try not to listen to them. I try to listen to everyone that’s been so supportive to me in this career change, and my family mean the world to me.”
While there have been detractors, particularly from his home country as people lament a lost talent, Rees-Zammit is still living and breathing the ups and downs as a Wales fan, and there have been plenty so far in the Six Nations.
Gatland’s side nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback at the Principality Stadium in their opener and were edged out by England at Twickenham in a bruising encounter for the purists, one he admitted he was “gutted” not to be involved in.
“I was jealous of the boys and it was in my mind I was pretty gutted I did not play,” said Rees-Zammit.
“The boys put a shift in and just managed to lose, which was tough.”
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