Thursday 23 May 2019

'I just wanted to help out at home' - Ultan Dillane reveals noble reason behind choosing Connacht over Munster

4 September 2018; Ultan Dillane during Connacht Rugby squad training at the Sportsground in Galway. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
4 September 2018; Ultan Dillane during Connacht Rugby squad training at the Sportsground in Galway. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile Newsdesk Newsdesk

Ultan Dillane's rugby journey has been more unusual than most, with the powerful second row's journey taking him from Paris to Tralee to Galway to the Irish national team.

Dillane was raised in France until the age of seven before moving to Kerry with his mother and brother, and although he played some underage rugby with Munster, he ultimately ended up in the Connacht academy.

A PRO12 title and 11 international caps with Ireland have followed but Munster fans could be forgiven for wondering what might have been if Dillane had opted to stay down south early in his career.

Dillane was a late bloomer in rugby and by the time a professional career became a realistic prospect, he had two offers in front of him - a full academy contract with Connacht or a place in the Munster sub-academy.

Despite a burning ambition to play for Munster after taking up the sport in the province, Dillane opted to head west.

Speaking to Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery on The Left Wing,'s rugby podcast, the Ireland international explained that the decision to take up the full academy contract had more to do with wanting to help his family than anything else.

"I just wanted to help out at home," he said.

"My mom had been driving me so much to Cork and Limerick to get to training sessions. I couldn't get too close to the Munster set-up then because I was so far away from my potential team-mates. As much as I would have loved to have played for them at the time, on top of the fact that they couldn't offer me an academy contract, I felt I needed to help out in some way.

"I asked an agent for some advice and he told me that Connacht were getting some good players in and it could be a good place to have a future as a rugby player. It was a tough choice."

Despite making the decision with noble intentions, Dillane quickly discovered that a rookie rugby contract didn't go very far when it came to helping out at home.

"The funny thing was that I couldn't contribute that much because the academy contract is probably less than minimum wage!," he laughed.

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