Not many would have predicted that when Joe Schmidt announced his extended 44 – man squad to train ahead of the upcoming Six Nations that one Rodney Ah You would be among the names selected.
The Christchurch native was the surprise inclusion to the Irish set-up, but hard-work and determination are seemingly paying off for the 25-year-old Kiwi.
When quizzed about his inclusion in the squad Ah You stated “My initial reaction was pure shock […] You know: it can’t be true. It can’t be true. But yeah, it has slowly been sinking in.”
Scouted in 2010 by Eric Elwood, Ah You made the hard decision to pack-up and move him and his wife to the west of Ireland. It was by no means an easy start to life at Connacht. Immersed in a new country and style of rugby, Ah You struggled for time on the pitch in his first couple of seasons at Connacht but while the ferociously powerful prop’s initial impact at the club was limited his fourth and latest season at the club has seen Ah You make tremendous improvements to his game which is reflected in his call up to the Irish set-up.
Ah You has featured in every game for Connacht this season and that is a testament to how far he has developed as a player since his arrival at the club.
Ah You was a late comer to the world of rugby. The New Zealander’s initial foray into sport was in the boxing ring. It wasn’t until the age of 16 that attentions were turned to rugby union which makes Ah You’s story all the more impressive.
Two of Ah You’s Connacht team mates, Robbie Henshaw and Kieran Marmion also received call ups to Joe Schmidt’s squad.
Ireland get their RBS Six Nations campaign underway at home to Scotland on Sunday 8 February.
By Ross Cannon