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NFL champion Chiefs reach deal with rugby star Rees-Zammit: reports

Former rugby star with Maltese descent left Gloucester in January

Welsh rugby star Louis Rees-Zammit has agreed to terms of a deal with the reigning NFL champion Kansas City Chiefs, according to multiple US and European reports on Thursday.

Rees-Zammit, a wing for Gloucester of the Premiership as well as internationally for Wales, said in January he was leaving rugby union to explore an NFL career.

He became part of the NFL International Player Pathway Program and worked out last week for league scouts.

Formal announcement of a deal between the Chiefs and Rees-Zammit is expected on Friday.

News of the agreement on terms came two days after NFL owners approved major changes to kickoff rules that make them closer to rugby kicks and could provide a perfect special teams opportunity for the 23-year-old Welshman, who is expected to be considered at running back and possibly as a wide receiver for the Chiefs.

NFL clubs receive a training camp roster exemption for an international player and this year have a practice squad berth available specifically for an international player.

NFL teams are allowed to elevate international players from the practice squad three times during the season, allowing greater opportunities for such players to play and have a chance to develop faster.

Rees-Zammit reportedly visited several NFL clubs between coming to terms with Kansas City.

The Chiefs have won back-to-back Super Bowl crowns and three titles in the past five seasons behind star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player and three-time Super Bowl MVP.

NFL owners changed kickoffs so kickers still launch the ball from the 35-yard line but the remainder of the kicking team will line up at the opponent’s 40-yard line and at least nine players of the receiving team will be positioned between the 30- and 35-yard lines.

Up to two receivers will handle the kickoff between the goal line and 20-yard line in the landing zone. Only the kicker and returners can move until the ball hits a receiver or the ground in the landing zone.

No fair catches will be allowed and there can be no surprise onside kick attempts, although teams could still attempt them with prior notice using the traditional NFL kick formation.

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