By Ali Stokes
Christian Wade has shocked English rugby with an unexpected mid-season move to the NFL, reported to have left Premiership side Wasps on Tuesday to pursue a career in the US.
The one-time capped winger became a try-scoring sensation after breaking onto the Premiership scene as a 19-year-old during the 2010/11 season, going on to score 82-tries in 130 league appearances, just 11 behind current record holder Tom Varndell, who sits on 93 scores.
Varndell currently plays in the ProD2 (the second tier of French club rugby) with Soyaux Angouleme.
Seemingly unable to build upon his singular England appearance against Argentina in 2013, Wade is reported to have abandoned any hopes of claiming Varndell's record with plenty of time left in his playing career, barring injury, to become the most prolific try-scorer in English club history.
The 27-year-old's abrupt move would see the Slough-born hotstepper follow in the footsteps of former Worcester Warriors second row Christian Scotland-Williamson, who left the Midlands to join the Pittsburgh Steelers last season.
In his column for The Guardian earlier this year, Scotland-Williamson commented on Wade's suitability to the NFL: "Iâve no doubt players like Christian Wade would do well over here with their speed and footwork."
Former England Sevens and Harlequins backrow Alex Gray is another English rugby star to make the switch to the gargantuan American Football League, joining the Atlanta Falcons the season before Scotland-Williamson. Both men play as tight ends in their adpoted sport.
During the off-season, Wade spent over a month in the US training with a specialist NFL coach. The speedster's partner is also American, creating further ties to the to the country.
Bobby Bridge, Rugby Reporter for CoventryLive, reports that Wade first made attempts to switch to the NFL last year, but has finally made his successful sporting swap at the age of 27, with non-too easy task of breaking into contention of an NFL playing squad.