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Warren Gatland ‘no idea’ if Louis Rees-Zammit will return to rugby after NFL bid

By PA
Gloucester's Louis Rees-Zammit during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Harlequins and Gloucester Rugby at Twickenham Stadium on December 30, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Wales boss Warren Gatland admits he has “no idea” if Louis Rees-Zammit will play rugby union again following his switch to American football.

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While Wales prepare for a Guinness Six Nations opener against Scotland, Rees-Zammit will be concentrating on the NFL’s International Player Pathway in the hope of forging a gridiron career.

His move to the United States with immediate effect has left Wales and his club Gloucester without a box-office wing, whose try-scoring ability thrilled crowds on domestic, European and international stages.

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Rees-Zammit’s rugby union career comes to a halt after winning 32 Wales caps and a World Cup campaign in France when he scored five tries.

Asked if the 22-year-old would come back to rugby one day, Gatland said: “No idea. There aren’t a lot of people who make it in the NFL who haven’t been brought up with the game and played it at a young age.

“There is probably not a lot of difference with rugby league players (trying to play union). Unless you have been brought up playing union, some are able to make it, but very few.

“So it is going to be a challenge for him, but good luck to him.

“We saw Christian Wade (ex-Wasps and England wing) do it, and if you look at rugby league, there was Jarryd Hayne from Australia who had a few games but wasn’t really able to crack it.

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“Christian got quite close to doing it. He was a bit older, though. Louis sees it as an opportunity at his age, and if he doesn’t take that chance now it probably won’t come around again.

“We are disappointed to lose a talent like him, but we’ve just got to take that on the chin, move on and focus on the rest of the squad.

“The last thing I can do is dwell on losing him, because the focus has got to be on preparing the squad for the first game.”

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Gatland believes that American football will see a player who is “a bit of a freak as an athlete” and someone who is still developing in the sporting arena.

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“I thought he was outstanding in the World Cup,” Gatland added. “The pleasing thing for me was that he hardly missed a training session and he was playing well.

“He is probably a bit of a freak as an athlete. He is a freak physically and he gets a chance to challenge himself.

“He has obviously been a big fan (of the NFL) as a youngster and he has got a very high profile away from the game in terms of social media, so this probably helps him enhance that. I am not saying that is a negative at all.”

Another player who will not be part of Wales’ Six Nations squad is 21-year-old Exeter wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.

Cardiff-born Feyi-Waboso qualifies for Wales and England, but he is believed to have been involved in a recent England alignment camp organised by head coach Steve Borthwick.

He could now be named in Borthwick’s Six Nations squad, which is announced on Wednesday.

Gatland said: “I didn’t personally speak to him. Mike Forshaw (Wales defence coach) had a conversation with him and he had expressed that he wanted to go down the English route, so good luck to him with that.

“He has definitely got some talent, there is no doubt about it. He is as green as anything.

“He has obviously had an approach from England, and he has decided to take that path.”

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Shaylen 14 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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