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Irishman Shane O'Leary gets call-up to Canada trials before June Tests

The 24-year-old left Connacht at the end of the season.

IRISHMAN SHANE O’LEARY has been called up to Canada’s squad for two domestic trial games before they name their final selection for the June Tests against Romania, Georgia and the US.

The uncapped O’Leary recently left Connacht after three seasons under Pat Lam and previously played for French outfit Grenoble.

Shane O’Leary celebrates O'Leary was part of last season's Pro12 triumph. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The out-half is a native of Cork who grew up in Ballina, across the river Shannon from Killaloe on the border between Tipperary and Clare.

The 24-year-old played club rugby with Ballina-Killaloe RFC and went on to represent Munster at U18, U19 and U20 levels.

O’Leary, whose mother is Canadian, played for the Canada U20s at the 2013 Junior World Trophy, when he was the tournament’s top-scorer with 45 points as he helped his side to second place overall.

O’Leary, who also covers midfield, had been playing senior club rugby with Young Munster in Limerick, but Rugby Canada helped him to distribute his CV in France as O’Leary looked to break into the professional game.

After a week’s trial at Grenoble, where Bernard Jackman and ex-Young Munster director of rugby Mike Prendergast were working at the time, O’Leary signed academy terms with the then Top 14 club.

O’Leary played five times for Grenoble in the Challenge Cup during his single season in France, before earning a move back to Ireland with Connacht.

The former Killaloe Community College student played more than 20 times for Connacht over the last three seasons but departed at the end of this year’s campaign and is currently unattached to a club.

However, Canada head coach Mark Anscombe – formerly in charge of Ulster – has called O’Leary into his 25-man ‘Pacific Tyee’ roster for two trial games against Canadian sides BC Bears and Prairie Wolf Pack in the coming weeks.

Shane O’Leary celebrates after the game O'Leary left Connacht at the end of the current season. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Canada face an important summer as they meet Romania on 10 June, take on Georgia a week later and then clash with the US over two legs in a 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifier.

“These games are crucial as we determine our squad for next month’s critical Test matches,” said Anscombe. “The Bears and Wolf Pack will provide quality opposition and we’ve selected a squad that features a number of Test-proven players.”

Anscombe will confirm his final squad for the June Tests at a later date.

- This article was updated at 1.43pm to add the word ‘in’ to the third paragraph.

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Murray Kinsella

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