"Anything Goes" - Christian Wade Warns Louis Rees-Zammit of NFL 'Dangers' With Welshman Linked to Kansas City Chiefs - Ruck

“Anything Goes” – Christian Wade Warns Louis Rees-Zammit of NFL ‘Dangers’ With Welshman Linked to Kansas City Chiefs

There are not many athletes walking the planet, who have a better understanding of the physical differences between playing rugby union and American football, than that of Christian Wade. The former Buffalo Bills running back enjoyed three seasons in the United States, but has since returned to rugby through Racing 92, and more recently agreed a move to Gloucester.

Wade arrives at Kingsholm to vill the void left by Louis Rees-Zammit, after the former Wales wing quit rugby in February to pursue a career in the NFL. The sport-switched shocked the rugby world, and none more so than Wales head coach Warren Gatland, who had to make some last-minute changes to his 2024 Six Nations squad, with just an hour to spare.

Christian Wade of Racing 92 during the Investec Champions Cup Match between Bath Rugby and Racing 92 at the Recreation Ground on 7 January 2024. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Rees-Zammit is currently impressing all onlookers, as he is recording strong scores in the NFL International Player Pathway. The former British & Irish Lion has been linked with a blockbuster deal to join the Kansas City Chiefs, with the latest murmurings suggesting that Rees-Zammit’s training squad contract, would see him earn in the staggering region of £700,000 ($882,934).

Kansas City Chiefs are back-to-back reigning Super Bowl champions, with the impressive feat achieved for the first time since 2004, following their Super Bowl LVIII triumph over the San Francisco 49ers last month. The Chiefs are spearheaded by quarterback talisman Patrick Mahomes, who could well be sending spiralling passes to Rees-Zammit, with the Welshman reportedly trialing out as a offensive tight-end or wide receiver.

Try Celebrations for Louis Rees-Zammit of Gloucester Rugby during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Gloucester Rugby and Harlequins at Kingsholm on 17 February. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

However, Christian Wade has since issued a warning to Rees-Zammit, explaining that the collisions in the NFL hurt a lot more than in rugby. Speaking to Instant Casinos, Wade said;

“A hard NFL tackle hurts more than a hard rugby tackle, for sure. With the pads themselves, getting hit with a pad, helmet, or grill, a kneecap, you’re not getting that in rugby. Guys are not going to dive head first at your knees.

“My biggest warning to Rees-Zammit is to learn how to protect yourself, especially on special teams, when you’re sprinting down the field. You’re usually sprinting with your head on a swivel because you have somebody else that has an assignment to stop you. They are looking to make a real shot on you.

Try Celebrations for Louis Rees-Zammit of Gloucester Rugby as he goes over for a try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Gloucester Rugby and Wasps at Kingsholm on 11 September. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

“They also have a look-off block. You’re not looking but I’ve set you up so that it’s a shock when you do. You need to be prepared so you can win collisions.”

From an outsiders perspective, the American footballers are well padded-up to withstand the clattering hits in comparison to rugby union. However, Wade revealed how the helmets and padding don’t actually provide a great deal of comfort, after being hit by a monstrous defensive end the size of an industrial fridge freezer.

“The pads are there but they are not really doing anything. You have guys who are 300lbs, athletic, powerful, strong and running at you trying to kill you. When you get hit by those dudes it’s pretty damaging!

Louis Rees-Zammit of Gloucester Rugby on the break as he runs in a try from his 22 during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Gloucester Rugby and Wasps at Kingsholm on 11 September. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

“In rugby we’re not wearing pads or helmets, but there is an element of technique that’s involved. If you get caught really well it’s going to hurt but it’s different. I got tackled where I got a helmet to my forearm, and if I press in the right spot it still feels fresh. It’s crazy. I remember getting hit from the side and the pain just shot across me, my joint was in so much pain.

“It all varies really. In the NFL, like rugby, you have to protect yourself, but in the NFL you need to know how to protect yourself more because of the way guys can come in at any angle. There are no safety measures of tackling above the shoulder, anything goes. There are some tackles that I thought were dangerous, where they can just dive at your knees. 

“You just have to know how to protect yourself when you’re out there. Fall correctly when you’re going into collision, get compact, get your pad high, there are a lot of things that go into protecting yourself that I had to learn fast.”

Looking at Rees-Zammit’s career path from a tactical perspective, Wade explained how he thinks the former Cherry and White wing should first opt for a starring role in the special teams if he wants to break into the playing squad. Wade explained how the competition for offensive places is rife across the likes of wide receiver and running back, with the former Wasps man laying out alternative options should Rees-Zammit not make an immediate breakthrough.

“With Rees-Zammit’s speed and agility, I think the positions he mentioned, running back and wide receiver, make sense for him. You would call them the skill positions. To play defence is very difficult, especially if you don’t know the game as well or haven’t grown up playing it.

“As long as you know your job and your routes and you can read and understand if they are playing man or zone, then you’re putting yourself in a good position. But those two positions will be his best opportunity to learn as much as possible.

“The way for him to get game time will be proving himself to special teams. Everyone wants to be the star. A bit like football, no one wants to go in goal. It’s like that in the NFL everyone wants to be the receiver or the running back, but special teams is where you can really make your mark and earn a position to get on the field.

“Those are the positions that will work for him, or at least get him that introduction to finding which position is best for him. Special teams, playing kick-off return etc, maybe put him as a ‘five’ to use his speed to get down the field. There are so many different positions for him, and ultimately the skills he needs to learn for running back will cross over into specialities. It’s a complicated game but as he trains he will see how they cross over.”