Rees-Zammit has immersed himself in the NFL’s intensive 10-week IPP program, where he is undergoing training as a wide receiver while also participating in running back drills. The Welsh athlete expressed his enthusiasm for the new challenge, emphasizing the transferable skills from rugby to American football.“There’s a lot of transferable skills over from rugby,” Rees-Zammit stated during an interview with BBC Wales’ Scrum V program. “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 hold.”
Acknowledging the initial challenges of adapting to American football, especially dealing with the vision limitations imposed by the helmet, Rees-Zammit remains optimistic about his journey. He highlighted the commitment required in the IPP, where international players undergo rigorous training both on and off the field, including classroom sessions, with a pro day at the program’s conclusion to assess their readiness for the NFL.
“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,” explained Rees-Zammit.
Leaving behind a successful rugby career was a monumental decision for the young athlete, but he expressed his lifelong desire to explore American football. Reflecting on the challenging choice, Rees-Zammit stated, “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.”
Rees-Zammit understands the potential risks and rewards of his American football pursuit. If successful, he could have a decade-long career playing the sport he grew up watching. However, he remains open to returning to rugby if his NFL aspirations do not materialize.
While Rees-Zammit embraces his NFL journey, he admitted feelings of jealousy watching his former teammates play for Wales in the Six Nations, where they suffered narrow defeats to Scotland and England in his absence. Despite the competitive pull of American football, the Welsh athlete expressed gratitude for the support from Wales head coach Warren Gatland, affirming his commitment to returning to rugby if his NFL venture does not pan out.
(Inputs from agencies)
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