Sunday 21 July 2019

Caps fit for Sportsground stars, who are set to 'prosper'

Ireland's Nathan White arrives for squad training. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Ireland's Nathan White arrives for squad training. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
19 September 2014: Nathan White, Connacht. Guinness PRO12, Connacht v Leinster, Round 3. The Sportsground, Galway. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

John Fallon

Coach Pat Lam says it is a great boost to everyone in Connacht to see the growing number of players from the province donning Irish jerseys.

The breakthrough achieved in the past year and a half by Robbie Henshaw, Kieran Marmion and Rodney Ah You as they made their Irish debuts has been a huge lift.

And Nathan White's debut for the Wolfhounds at Irish Independent Park last weekend was another step in the tighthead prop becoming the next full international from Connacht.

The 33-year-old Kiwi, who joined from Leinster, was poised for his Irish debut in November against South Africa but suffered an arm injury which sidelined him for a few months.

But knowing just how close he was to wearing the green proved to be a huge incentive for White as he went through weeks of rehab after rupturing tendons in his right arm.

He returned for Connacht in their dramatic late win away to La Rochelle which secured a Challenge Cup quarter-final tie against Gloucester, and last weekend finally made his bow in an Irish shirt when he came on for the Wolfhounds against the Saxons.

"Knowing how close I was in November gave me the determination to spend the ten weeks I had off working really hard to try and get back."

He joined Connacht after winning a Heineken Cup medal with Leinster three years ago and said it didn't take him long to make up his mind about extending his stay at the Sportsground for another two seasons.

"No, the decision didn't take long. Making the Irish squad, this is where I wanted to stay. I wasn't going to go too far so it was a pretty easy process to work through," said White.

He said he has been very impressed by the progress made at Sportsground and believes they are set to prosper.

"There is a great depth of talent here. The two years I have been here so far it is a completely different place from when I turned up. Pat has done a great job with the style of game he has played and he has got the players behind him as well. Players are backing him and it has really developed.

"You look through the squad and everyone is relatively young so it is going to be basically the same guys for the next three years with Pat so I think that consistency will pay off in the long term."

Irish Independent

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