The 22-year-old Gloucester speedster was a student at Hartpury College four years ago when he watched his Welsh teammate Josh Adams notch a tournament high seven tries as Wales reached the semi-finals in Japan. That inspired him to push for a place in the 2023 squad and this week he achieved that goal.
Now he wants to try to emulate Adams and add to the nine tries he has already scored in his 27-cap career to date. Named in Warren Gatland’s 33-strong squad to take on Fiji, Portugal, Australia and Georgia in Pool C next month, Rees-Zammit is thrilled to be heading to world rugby’s biggest event.
“I’m absolutely over the moon. It’s a dream come true to get selected, and I can’t put into words how excited I am,” he said.
“As a kid in Wales, it’s the dream to play for your country and then play at a World Cup. As a 22-year-old, I’m absolutely buzzing to get this opportunity and can’t wait to get started.
“The training camps in Switzerland and Turkey were the hardest things I’ve ever done. I feel so fit now and I’m ready to perform, I’m ready to play.”
Still angry about being denied a try out of nothing in the opening World Cup warm-up game against England, Rees-Zammit reckons he is faster than he was a year ago and can’t wait to put that boast to the test at the World Cup.
“I would say I am even faster than I was. Being fit, you are able to repeat a lot more,” said Rees-Zammit. “There is a lot of kicking in international rugby and being able to repeat sprints and then have one opportunity, say in the 80th minute, you need to take advantage of it.
“I feel the fittest I have ever been, and I am just raring to go. Hopefully, I can keep showing everyone how fast I am.
“In terms of numbers, I am definitely quicker than last season. Being so fit just allows you to repeat and repeat all day. Being able to do it once or twice isn’t good enough, you’ve got to maintain that and keep doing it.”
During Wales’ tough training camps in Switzerland and Turkey Rees-Zammit was clocked covering 10.8 metres per second. That gives him a top speed of 24mph.
To put that into perspective, newly crowned British 100 metres record holder Zharnel Hughes reached 27mph in New York when he took Linford Christie’s previous best down to 9.83 sec. He covered 12.1 metres every second.
“I feel like I’ve done quite a lot in the short space of my career. Being on a Lions tour was amazing but being at a World Cup for your country is really special as well – I’m so excited,” he added.
“We’ve got two weeks before we go and I’m going to be training very hard to put my name on that teamsheet because there’s a lot of competition and everyone wants to be playing in the Fiji game.
“They’re a very good side, they love transition, and they love throwing the ball around. It’s about sticking to our systems in defence and attack, and hopefully getting a win.”