Chiefs hoping ex-rugby star can adapt to NFL quickly
Louis Rees-Zammit. PA Images/Alamy Images

Chiefs hoping ex-rugby star can adapt to NFL quickly

Louis Rees-Zammit is an international rugby star. At just 23 years old, he felt he had accomplished enough in rugby to see if he could use those skills to break into another sport, though.

He left the rugby union in January 2024 to pursue his dream of being an American football player. He joined the NFL's International Player Pathway Program and that move paid off in a big way. The Kansas City Chiefs signed Rees-Zammit in late March with the hopes of seeing if his skill set could translate to running back, wide receiver or even on special teams as a returner.

The rugby star took part in Kansas City's rookie camp over the weekend and at least when he's in the open field, it sounds like he feels his experience on the pitch could translate.

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

The Chiefs are hoping that he'll be able to let his natural athleticism take over, but there's definitely going to be a learning curve in terms of how an American football flows compared to rugby.

"[American football] is completely different. Rugby is very free-flowing unless you get a set piece. That's when you call a play. So there's probably 20 to 30 plays a game, whereas here you're talking hundreds. So it's been interesting to learn a playbook," Rees-Zammit explained.

Ultimately, Rees-Zammit just wants to make the team, and if he can prove to be able to adapt to the new sport and new style of play, he's arguably in the best situation possible as a player new to the sport.

"This was good for him,'' Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said. "He's done a good job of working on holding the ball. They do hold it a little bit differently and it's not quite as pointy as a football, so he's done a good job with that and he'll learn the pad level the first time he gets hit.''

Playing alongside Patrick Mahomes and being coached by the offensive wizard that in Andy Reid? 

It doesn't get better than that.

"I've been put in the running back group to start with [but] I think it's going to be a versatile role for me,'' Rees-Zammit said. "I'm hoping the coaches are very creative here. ... It's all about me learning the playbook and learning the game because without that I can't do anything else."

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