Friday 19 January 2018

Wootton fully committed to green cause after switch

Alex Wootton
Alex Wootton
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

HIS path into the Irish set up wasn't conventional but that hasn't stopped Alex Wootton from fully buying into the Irish philosophy.

Born in Macclesfield and having come through England's schoolboy ranks, Wootton was headhunted by Irish scouts through the exiles system.

His family hail from Down but owes a lot to his brother after finding himself preparing for his second consecutive Junior World Cup.

"I played U-16s and so on with England but my brother Tom had gone to a few exiles camps back in England. Ireland contacted me via my brother about going to some of these camps," says the 20-year-old.

"I came over for a trial game against Scotland a year ago. I was actually on the reserve squad to go to France straight after that and then I got called up to the squad a week into it. It was all very short and sudden."

Wootton was fast-tracked into the Irish system but he maintains that it is an experience that stands to him now. He missed out on last year's Six Nations and was a late call-up to Mike Ruddock's squad for the 2013 World Cup.

A product of the Northampton Saints academy, the winger was snapped up by Munster last year.


Having represented both Ireland and England at underage level, Wootton's international allegiances won't be tied to either country until he features at senior level. Despite that fact, he is under no illusions as to what country he is committed to.

"It was something (playing for Ireland) I was always interested in as a kid but I was born in England, so my friends were all into the England stuff. But now I'm away from school, I've branched out and I want to continue my career over here. It's been great for me and I'm really enjoying it.

"I don't really think about playing for England. I'm in Ireland and I'm fully concentrated on the Irish set up.

"My aspirations are to play for the Irish senior team one day. It's every kid in Ireland's dream and it's what's up on my wall at home. I look at it every day and it's something that I want to do."

Wootton endured a tough first domestic season in Ireland. He struggled to get into a Garryowen side that were eventually relegated from Division 1A of the All-Ireland League while he only made one appearance for Munster in the British & Irish Cup.

But for now, his focus has firmly switched to the small matter of a Junior World Cup in New Zealand.

"We need to get our heads right and be physical. Teams like Wales are very physical and they play right on the edge of legality. We need to be more rugby-smart," he acknowledges.

First up on Monday (6:30am Irish time) is a meeting with France.

"If we can execute our game plan then we can 100pc beat them. They've got a couple of players who've played in the Heineken Cup but they can't really compete with that passion of an Irish team," said Wootton.

"As long as we take that mindset, no one will be able to live with us."

Irish Independent

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