Hard work pays off for Ah You
New Zealand-born prop Rodney Ah You has expressed his delight after being included in the extended 44-man Ireland squad for the upcoming Six Nations.
Connacht's New Zealand-born prop Rodney Ah You has expressed his delight after being included in the extended 44-man Ireland squad for the upcoming Six Nations.
Commenting on his call-up, Ah You said: "I'm so delighted to be included in the Ireland squad. It's a huge honour for me and my family, and I'm especially grateful to my wife Bella who has been so supportive.
Ah You was one of seven uncapped players named in Joe Schmidt's extended Ireland squad, including his Connacht teammate Kieran Marmion.
"We made the big decision to move here from New Zealand over three years ago and we've never looked back. Galway is our home. It's where our two boys were born and we love it here,” he said.
"Connacht have been so good for my development as a rugby player. Working with Dan [McFarland] and Pat [Lam] has been great as they are always challenging me on and off the field and I've been given a real chance this season, playing in every game.
"I'm looking forward to getting up to the [Irish] camp next week and getting stuck in. It's a great opportunity.
"It hasn't been an easy road and there are a few people I'd personally like to thank for their help behind the scenes in getting me to where I am today.
"My good friends Ash Parker and Michelle Sandford at home, but most of all Dave Hewett who played a huge part in converting me to a tighthead prop at the beginning.
"And of course thanks to the great friends we've made here in Ireland and most of all our families back home for their loyalty and support," he added.
Connacht head coach Pat Lam added: "This is great news for Rodney, his family in Ireland and Connacht.
"I'm delighted for him as it's another reward for the massive changes he has made and the work he has put in to his game on and off the field this season.
"We know there's so much more to come in Rodney's development and training with Joe and in the Ireland set-up will be another boost in his progress as a young tighthead prop."
Ah You qualified for Ireland this past October, having joined Connacht, under Eric Elwood, in October 2010.
The 25-year-old recently signed a new two-year contract which will see him remain at the province until at least June 2016.
Ah You, who can play on either side of the scrum, is one of three Connacht squad members to have played in all 17 games so far this season and now has 61 senior caps to his name.
Ah You joined Connacht in 2010, coming from Canterbury (NPC). Growing up in Christchurch and attending Christchurch Boys High, the former boxer switched to playing rugby full-time when he was 16-years-old.
Five years later, he caught the attention of Connacht while playing underage international rugby for the New Zealand and soon made the move to the west of Ireland.
He has been capped by the All Blacks at Under-19 and Under-20 levels and was also a member of New Zealand's Junior World Championship-winning sides in both 2007 and 2008.