Former England youth star Harry Mallinder follows Wales star Louis Rees-Zammit to NFL as IPP roster confirmed | Rugby Union News

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Former England prospect Harry Mallinder will join Wales winger Louis Rees-Zammit in joining the NFL through the International Player Pathway programme.

Mallinder becomes the latest rugby star to chase NFL dreams after 22-year-old Wales international Rees Zammit, who played club rugby for Gloucester, announced on Tuesday that he will join the NFL’s International Player Pathway (IPP) this month. It became.

Mallinder played for Northampton from 2013 to 2021, before moving to Japan, where he was with the Black Rams Tokyo, where he was listed as a kicker/punter, and Rees-Zammit was listed as a running back/wide receiver.

“Excited and honored to be selected as the kicker/punter for the 2024 NFL IPP,” Mallinder said on social media. “I can’t wait to get to work!”

At the conclusion of training camp, IPP athletes will be eligible for the 17th spot on the practice squad roster of any of the 32 teams. This is an additional slot reserved for international players.

This year’s IPP class includes athletes from eight countries with a variety of sporting backgrounds including rugby, basketball, athletics, Gaelic football and Australian rules football.

Nigeria (one listed as a co-Scottish player) and Ireland will each have four players in camp, with three from England, two from Australia and one each from Wales, Austria and the Dominican Republic. It becomes.

Rees-Zammit: Can a rugby star with ‘Cheetah’ speed follow in his footsteps in the NFL?

Rees-Zammit isn’t the first rugby player to try for success in the NFL, but can he succeed where others have stumbled, and what sets him apart from others? I wonder if there is one?

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England head coach Steve Borthwick has revealed which players he thinks would do well in the NFL after Louis Rees-Zammit announced plans to pursue a career in the league.

He particularly follows in the footsteps of former England international Christian Wade, who played no regular-season games in his three years with the Buffalo Bills before returning to club rugby and France’s Racing 92 in 2022. Given that he didn’t feature, perhaps Rees-Zammit bit off more than he could chew?

Wade is the most obvious example that Rees-Zammit could learn from, with both plying their trade as wingers in rugby union, and the Welshman already having a five-year lead over the 27-year-old former Wasps star. They benefit from a head start on the year. Switched in 2019.

Wade broke through the IPPP as a running back with the Bills, scoring a sensational 65-yard touchdown on his team’s first touch in a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts. But he never saw the field in a regular season contest, and Wade previously said his best moment, that TD against the Colts, was a sign of how he struggled to make the transition. It hinted that it had happened.

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Following the news that Louis Rees-Zammit is quitting rugby to pursue a career in the NFL, we take a look at Christian Wade’s first touchdown in NFL history after he took the same action in 2018.

“The way I took my hands off, I got in a little bit of trouble,” Wade said. “At first I put the ball in my right pocket, but when I realized I was going to relax my hands, I went back to receiving the ball like I was catching a rugby ball.”

Wade is not the only homegrown rugby player to bring his talents to the United States. Christian Scotland-Williamson and Alex Gray also moved from the Gallagher Premiership to the IPPP, joining the Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons respectively.

Again, neither had ever seen a competitive match field before attempting to return to rugby. Gray is currently appearing in the rebooted TV series Gladiator as “Apollo”, beating out the contenders.

Rees-Zammit’s biggest strength is his speed. Could he be a natural fit at the running back position, as was the case with Wade, or could he fit at wide receiver? Or both.

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Podcast ‘Inside the Huddle’ sees Neil Reynolds and Jeff Reinbold envision roles they could play in the NFL after rugby player Louis Rees-Zammit announces joining the International Player Pathway Program .

Sky Sports” Neil Reynolds likened him to San Francisco 49ers dual-threat Deebo Samuel and said of his latest game: Inside the Huddle Podcast: “You can play him a little bit as a wide receiver, you can anchor him in the backfield, you can have him return kicks. There’s a lot of things he can do and how they play him next camp. It will be interesting to see if they use it.”

Rees-Zammit’s NFL adventure begins Friday with a flight to Florida ahead of a 10-week intensive training camp as part of the IPPP, after which teams will find out if they want to sign him.

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Wales head coach Warren Gatland admitted the news of Louis Rees-Zammit’s decision to pursue a career in the NFL was “a bit of a shock”.

That’s just the beginning. Like Wade and others who have come before him, deciding who will start for the team is another battle in itself.

There is no doubt that the Welsh player has great potential. And not just in terms of his obvious athleticism. As the NFL looks to continue its expansion into Europe and other regions, especially with the annual International Series games, Reese’s Zammit could bring the game to a whole new audience.

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