Connacht’s New Zealand-born prop Rodney Ah You was yesterday named in the Ireland extended 44-man squad to train for the upcoming Six Nations and Ireland Wolfhounds game later in the month.

Ah You was one of seven uncapped players named in Joe Schmidt’s squad, including fellow Connacht teammate Kieran Marmion.

Commenting on his call up, Rodney said:

“I’m so delighted to be included in the Ireland squad next week. It’s a huge honour for me and my family, and I’m especially grateful to my wife Bella who has been so supportive.

“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.

“Connacht has 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 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 tight head 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.”

Connacht Head Coach Pat Lam added:

“This is great news for Rodney, his family in Ireland and Connacht Rugby. 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 in October last year, 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 the Irish province whilst playing for New Zealand’s juniors and soon made the move to the West of Ireland.

He has been capped by the All Blacks at U-19 and U-20 level and was also a member of New Zealand’s winning Junior World Cup sides in both 2007 and 2008.

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