Louis Rees-Zammit: Welsh star’s ‘attitude changed’ ahead of shock NFL move says Warren Gatland

Colin Newboult
Louis Rees-Zammit at the 2023 Rugby World Cup alongside Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

Louis Rees-Zammit at the 2023 Rugby World Cup alongside Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

Louis Rees-Zammit was a changed man just a few months prior to his defection from rugby, according to Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

The 60-year-old revealed how, in his eyes, the speedster became even more professional during the Rugby World Cup in September and October last year.

Rees-Zammit touched down five times at the 2023 global tournament as Wales reached the quarter-finals before they were eliminated by Argentina.

The youngster then stunned the rugby world just three months later by announcing his departure from the sport and joining the NFL’s international pathway program.

‘Are you ok?’

“I saw a change in him during the World Cup in terms of his attitude and his preparation and the time and effort. He hardly missed a training session whereas he was probably guilty in the past of having little niggles and stuff. Whether it was a mental thing or not I’m not too sure about,” Gatland told The Rugby Pod.

“All of a sudden he had a week of 10 training sessions in a row and I made a joke ‘are you ok? Because you’ve just broken your record for the most consecutive training sessions.’”

Rees-Zammit spent 10 weeks on an intensive training course before he signed for the defending Super Bowl champions, Kansas City Chiefs, on a three-year deal after impressing their scouts.

Wales have plenty of back three talent to cover for his exit, with the likes of Josh Adams and Rio Dyer proven international performers, but Gatland believes that the 23-year-old is a “big loss” to the national team.

“He’s a lot bigger than people think. He’s obviously quick, he’s powerful, he’s skilful,” the head coach added.

‘Ballsy’ Louis Rees-Zammit warned over ‘humbling’ NFL move by superstar team-mate Travis Kelce

Six Nations shock

The announcement of Rees-Zammit’s departure came on the same day Wales’ squad was named for the 2024 Six Nations. Even Gatland was caught unawares, with the head coach forced to make a change at late notice.

It was something the Welsh boss could have done without but, ultimately, the flyer went with the New Zealander’s blessing.

“The thing that was frustrating for me was it just happened so quickly when we were announcing the squad and then all of a sudden he wasn’t available,” Gatland said.

“We were running around a little bit chasing our tails. But when I thought about it and looked at it, I’m going ‘he’s a young kid, he’s following a dream, something that’s a chance for him.’

“It’s fantastic that people can have an opportunity to do something different and follow their dreams. If he makes it, absolutely brilliant, and if he doesn’t, he’ll still be 25, 26, and will hopefully come back to rugby.

“It’s going to be tough for him, a real challenge trying to pick up the game and do those sorts of things.”

READ MORE: Wales great makes drastic proposal to the WRU after ‘disastrous’ season