Former rugby star Christian Wade helps Buffalo Bills NFL playoff preparations

Christian Wade is only on the Buffalo Bills practice squad, but it’s clear the AFC East winners are enjoying the former rugby union star’s presence.

Wade turned his back on rugby two years ago in order to try his hand at American Football, landing a spot on the NFL's International Player Pathway program.

It means he’s not part of the 53-man roster with the former Wasps ace still learning the ins and outs in Buffalo.

But one thing Wade doesn’t need teaching is personality, or how to interact with others.

Known as one of the jokers at Wasps, he’s taken that across the Pond and counts the likes of starting QB Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs amongst his closest friends.

It can’t have been an easy ride for the 29-year-old, who still sits in fourth on the Premiership rugby’s all-time leading try scorer list.

But Wade is loving life in the States, enjoying showing Americans his funny side and getting on with Allen.

“Our fiancees are best friends,” Wade told UK media as the Bills prepare to take on the Colts in the wildcard round.

“He's a cool guy, man. If you didn't know that he was like a hot shot, MVP nominee, that sort of stuff, you wouldn't know that he was who he is because he's just so down to earth.

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“He's a bit of a jokester. He's always going around saying different jokes. He is a bit like how I am, going around annoying people just for the sake of fun.

“That's the type of person that Josh is.”

Wade has ruled out ever returning to rugby, keen to develop and make it onto a NFL field.

Though the Bills have plenty of options with Allen in the running for this year’s MVP and Diggs shining in his first season with the organisation.

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But Diggs himself, who hijacked Wade’s virtual conference call and answered a handful of questions, has loved having the former England rugby ace around.

Diggs, who has made a big impact in his first season with the Bills, said: “I’ve been having a good time and I’m more so having fun because the people that I'm around and my quarterback is a whole he's a jokester.

“C Wade is also jokes and we play all day. So it's been fun. When I first got here, they was like, yeah, like one of these first touches, he [Wade] scored a touchdown.

“And I remember seeing them on, like, ESPN. And I was like, he is actually pretty fast.

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“So now it's just like we just be hanging out. He been pretty cool. Hopefully he doesn't have to go back. I just I want him to be here for a while.”

Footage of the Bills dancing in practice went viral this week, though Wade was on the other side of the pitch.

But he didn’t mind digging some of his team-mates’ dance moves out: “Gabe Davis is like one of the main dudes and then Darryl Johnson is one.

“I think there's a gif where the defense advanced and then they're in redzone and you see down they're going to he's always down there going crazy on the sideline.”

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But now it’s the serious side for the Bills, who go into the playoffs as No. 2 seed in the AFC after a 13-3 regular season.

They face the Colts on Saturday, having not been beaten since mid-November and in fine form.

Wade said: “We are just building year on year. I know when coach came in, he wanted to create his own culture, create a new identity for the Bills.

“Obviously historically we've won the divisions and championships, but we’ve been dry for 25 years. So he's been able to create a coaching environment that's all about getting better.

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“Every day we talk about playoff caliber and once we make the playoffs championship caliber.

“The Colts are a good side, but we are just focused in on the way that we play, want to execute our stuff with the offense, defense, special teams.

“And, you know, it’ll take care of itself if we do the fundamentals and do what we're supposed to do.”

A lot will be expected of Josh Allen, in just his third pro season, with the QB throwing for 37 touchdowns and rushing for eight more.

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Wade added: “I always knew he was capable of doing this. And even more, I think people keep forgetting that this is his third year in the league.

“So he's still very young. And, you know, historically, someone like Josh would have come sat behind a veteran quarterback for a little bit before he even touched the field.

“So for him to come in and start playing week in, week out from his first year, and it's only because I feel as though, you know, he's been working on himself and just getting better and better and really just coming into his own and fulfilling his potential.

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“He's fast, great footwork. And it was just really about, I feel the difference between last year, this year, is his decision making.”

Allen’s decision making will have to be on point as the Bills take on the Colts, with Buffalo searching for their first playoff win since 1995.

Watch live NFL Playoff action this Saturday and Sunday on Sky Sports NFL and NFL GamePass from 6pm or catch the highlights on The NFL Show on BBC One and NFL Endzone on Channel 5

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