A rollercoaster year for Wales star Louis Rees-Zammit took another unexpected turn on Tuesday after the breakout talent received a pair of exclusive boots from New Zealand great Dan Carter.
Not long back from his maiden voyage with the British and Irish Lions, the Penarth native returned home to find one of rugby’s most recognisable faces had sent him a special gift.
Rees-Zammit, 20, was officially promoted to Gloucester ’s senior squad for the 2020-21 campaign, winning their Young Player of the Year award after crossing over for six tries in 11 games.
He scored four tries in five outings at this year’s Six Nations —where he also won Try of the Tournament—and was duly called up for the Lions’ tour of South Africa, which ended in a 2-1 defeat.
However, a present from one of rugby’s all-time greatest talents is one surefire way to help get over that disappointment in South Africa, where he scored three tries in four games but failed to make a Test appearance.
Along with the gleaming gold Adidas Predators, Carter wrote a personal message that read: "To Louis, What a magical season! Work conquers all. Enjoy the boots!”
Rees-Zammit clearly enjoyed the gift, too, uploading an Instagram story alongside a fire emoji and the caption: "Thanks Dan Carter, much appreciated."
The flashy boots are a tribute to the gold Predators Carter wore during his 100th Test appearance when New Zealand bested England 30-22 at Twickenham in November 2013.
As well as Carter’s initials and shirt number (No. 10), the design also features the All Blacks fern logo and a print of Carter’s signature on its heel.
Further cementing their rare nature, the boots also pay respect to Carter by featuring his cap number (1,034), number of All Blacks appearances (112) and his record points tally (1,598).
No other player in Test rugby has managed to eclipse the 1,500-point mark, with ex-England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson coming the closest on 1,246.
Carter’s boots are so exclusive that they’ve never been made available for public consumption, and the New Zealand icon said at the time of their release in July: "Couldn't be happier to share with you my new Predator boots in collaboration with Adidas and love the finished product.
"This is one of my favourite projects that I have done with Adidas and definitely the most personal as it was a celebration of my career.
"The gold is a tribute to the boots I wore during my 100th Test."
Rees-Zammit is already partnered with Adidas as a sponsor, meaning it may not be long before we see the prospect sporting his new kicks on the field.
That being said, the Welsh whiz may prefer to keep this particular pair in pristine condition out of respect for the sender.
Rees-Zammit is set to report back to Kingsholm for pre-season with Gloucester, while he’s likely to be back in Wales’ squad for Autumn Tests against New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji and Australia.
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