Former Washington Redskins running back Silas Redd has declared his dream of playing in the NRL is still alive as he prepares to start his quest with the Ipswich Jets in the Intrust Super Cup.
Likened in style and swagger to Wendell Sailor, the 25-year-old was scheduled to travel to Australia to link with the Jets in early January but visa issues have delayed his arrival.
There had been concerns he may not be coming but Redd, who played 15 NFL games for the Washington Redskins between 2014 and 2016, said he would soon be on his way.
“I have submitted everything my end and once it comes through and the visa gets approved, I’ll be on my way,” Redd told NRL.com from Los Angeles.
“I’m in great shape and just want to get out there and get rolling.
“My ultimate goal is to play in the NRL. I know how tall of a task that is going to be, but I just want the people to know that I am still excited and still focused to get out there to hopefully contribute the best way I can to Ipswich.
“On YouTube I’ve have been watching the Brisbane Broncos and the Melbourne Storm, and on this side of the word the Toronto Wolfpack, to try and learn as much as I can.”
Redd likes a challenge and outlined the genesis of his NRL dream.
“A friend of my dad who used to play with the US rugby league team, Jeremy Kosbob, gave the idea to my dad and my dad brought it to me,” he said.
“It sounded like it could be a great opportunity for all parties involved so I decided to jump on it.”
Redd took the plunge and lined up with the Ipswich Jets on the wing in an exhibition game against Tweed Heads in Hawaii last October, and scored a try after a powerhouse surge.
“I had a great time, and ever since I’ve been thinking about getting back to that because it was an amazing feeling getting out there and competing,” he said.
“That try was a great feeling too man. I was so tired after that. I threw up after that try actually, so that was my celebration … a good vomit.”
Former NRL star Chris Walker played centre in that Hawaii game for Ipswich and has been given the task by Jets coaches Ben and Shane Walker of fine-tuning Redd’s game when he arrives.
“I am looking forward to working with Silas because I reckon he will be the Intrust Super Cup version of Wendell Sailor,” Walker told NRL.com.
“In Hawaii I dropped a ball off to him, and with his second touch he carried four blokes over the tryline and scored.
“Silas is an athlete and strong as a Mallee bull. He is fit and fast, even stronger than Wendell. He’s five foot 10 whereas Dell is six foot three, but he has a better passing and kicking game than Wendell … not that Wendell had a passing or kicking game.
“While he is smaller in stature, he has got that same strut as Big Dell. He’s not short in confidence.”
Redd said he was confident the switch to becoming a rugby league winger would work due to the position he played in the NFL.
“I see a lot of similarities in the running style,” he said.
“Finding gaps and holes is obviously something an NFL running back does, which is something that a rugby league wing also does … exploiting and finding holes in the defence, using your speed and change of direction to make plays happen, and therefore taking the ball down the field.”
Redd weighs 92kg and aims to drop a few more kilos to transition to the wing.
“I played at 240 pounds [108kg] so I have lost a lot of weight since I played NFL to get myself ready,” he said.
“I’m from a blue-collar family. My parents always worked. We are not lazy people. I feel personally as though I have a lot left in the tank. I’ll be 26 years old in March and these legs still have some life in them and can move pretty fast and do some pretty good things.
“It was a great atmosphere and a great culture with Ipswich. They treated me like I had been there for the whole 2017 season. It seemed like a great fit and that is why I can’t wait to do it.”
Redd, who got engaged to his college sweetheart in December, went to Penn State College and the University of Southern California (USC).
He still trains running backs at USC and said he enjoyed “giving back and passing on my knowledge to the younger guys”.
Whether he can have a “Big Dell” impact on the game in Australia remains to be seen, but he didn’t mind Walker’s comparison.
“Chris told me about that when I was in Hawaii, so I looked Wendell up and he seems like a pretty cool guy,” he grinned. “He’s a character for sure.”
Redd’s soon-to-be mentor in Australia, Chris Walker, is also a character. His brother Shane said he had full confidence in his ability to fine-tune Redd for his transition.
“Chris is in our special projects department,” Shane grinned.
“The skill acquisition areas we can bring Silas up to speed with, but it will be good to have another set of eyes helping him some of those instinctual things and what you should be thinking during a game.”