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Christian Wade signs for Buffalo Bills in NFL

The ex-Wasps wing takes a big step towards his dream of playing in the NFL by signing for the New York State-based side

Christian Wade signs for Buffalo Bills in NFL

What a moment for Christian Wade, when he got the call telling him he had been assigned to the Buffalo Bills.

In October the former wing, who had one cap for England and who was called up for the British & Irish Lions in 2013, retired from rugby to pursue an NFL career.

He joined up with the ‘International Player Pathway Program’, which offers athletes from outside the US a path into the NFL. Since December, Wade has been training in Florida, working on technique and learning the football-specific lingo and basic structures every player needs in their arsenal.

Related: The exchange of ideas between rugby and the NFL

Wade, who is earmarked as a potential running back that can contribute on special teams, is not the first English rugby union player to progress through this system. Ex-sevens cap Alex Gray was assigned to the Atlanta Falcons, where he has recently signed a further two-year deal. Last term, the Pittsburgh Steelers took on former Worcester Warriors lock Christian Scotland-Williamson. Both men train as tight ends.

Teams assigned international players are allowed an exemption on their 90-man rosters through training camp – where players like Wade can attempt to make the 53-man regular season squad – and these same players are afforded an additional practice squad spot during the season. If that is the case, these players are then ineligible from being activated from the practice squad during the season.

Talking of his recent head-spinning experiences, Wade said: “Every week that has gone by has exceeded my expectations. At this stage I’m speechless.

“For me this is another step closer to my dream and what I set out to achieve from the start. It’s making me emotional thinking about the risk I took and the magnitude of the move.

Wade has also said: “There has been a huge mental challenge. It’s like learning a new language – you must go into a classroom and learn something completely new in a short period of time.

“It’s been a real test and will continue to be so as I’ve only scratched the surface of what is required. It’s been a challenge that I have risen to and now I am looking to the next step.”

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