Australian rugby sensation to follow Louis Rees-Zammit in chasing NFL dream

Jared Wright
Louis Rees-Zammit catching an football and a snippet of Jordan Petaia playing for Australia.

Jordan Petaia could follow Louis Rees-Zammit in making the shock move to the NFL.

Australian rugby sensation Jordan Petaia is set to follow Louis Rees-Zammit in chasing his NFL dream at the end of the year.

Rees-Zammit made the shock decision to ditch rugby on the eve of Wales’ 2024 Six Nations team announcement.

The Welshman has since signed for the two-time defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs ahead of the 2024 NFL season and is likely to play in friendly matches during the summer as he bids to make the final 53-man roster.

Now, another high-profile rugby star could follow him in making the sport switch and join the International Pathway Program at the end of the year.

Jordan Petaia to chase NFL dream

Wallabies star back Petaia is off-contract this year, and while Rugby Australia are desperate to retain his services, it is reported that he has told his current employers that he is seriously considering the mammoth switch to American football.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Petaia has been in talks with the NFL’s IPP officials and is reassessing his future in rugby.

The 24-year-old enjoyed a similarly meteoric rise in rugby union, earning his first call-up to the Wallabies squad at the age of 18 in 2018.

He would have to wait until 2019 to make his Test debut, but he did so at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, becoming the youngest player to represent Australia at a global tournament and quickly becoming a regular starter for the side.

Despite his injury setbacks over the years, he has still proven to be world-class for Australia and represented the side in his second World Cup in 2023.

Blessed with blistering pace and wonderful footwork, Petaia is likely to also be a running back, wide receiver or returner if he decides to make the switch.

However, the rugby union star is reportedly fielding interest from Australian rugby league teams, who are also eager to snap up his services but, financially, the NFL could be a better bet.

It’s understood that Rees-Zammit will earn around US$950,000 in the NFL, while Petaia would likely earn around US$231,300 a season if he stayed in rugby union after Rugby Australia handed huge contracts to Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii and Max Jorgensen.

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Open to remaining in rugby

The report adds that Petaia has not ruled out remaining in rugby union but is considering his options with the growing uncertainty in the game in Australia.

If he were to jump ship and chase an NFL contract, it would be a massive blow to Australia as they prepare for the 2027 British and Irish Lions series.

Following a disastrous Rugby World Cup campaign under Eddie Jones, Joe Schmidt has been tasked with leading the Wallabies back to their former glory but has just one year to prepare for the series against the Lions that occur in Australia every 12 years.

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