This piece was originally published on 2 January when Dillane was named in Ireland’s extended training squad.
ULTAN DILLANE, WHO today was named in Ireland’s Six Nations squad for the first two rounds of matches, is a 22-year old who has taken a circuitous route to becoming a potential Irish international.
His father is from the Ivory Coast and he was born in Paris, where he spent the first seven years of his life, before moving to Tralee in Co Kerry, where his mother is from.
The 6’6” second-rower began playing rugby for Tralee RFC and quickly progressed through the ranks before some impressive displays for Irish age-grade sides saw him snapped up by Connacht academy manager Nigel Carolan three years ago.
He made his senior debut for Connacht just over a year ago against Leinster, with his next two games quickly coming against Ulster and Munster.
He was handed a full contract last January after those impressive displays against the Irish provinces and he made his European debut in Russia against Enisei-STM in November.
He has now played 18 matches for Connacht since his debut, 15 of them in the Pro12.
Connacht coach Pat Lam was not surprised that Dillane was drafted by Schmidt to the extended training squad and he believes it will be a great boost for the promising lock.
“He still has a lot of learning to do,” Lam said. “But Joe has seen the abrasiveness, the youth and the enthusiasm and being part of that camp is going to be great for his development.
“At the end of the day for us it’s all about the collective and if you get recognised, you get recognised. There is a lot of talent in Ireland, in all four provinces, and there is more coming through.”
And what can you expect from Dillane? Well this was the hit he put in on Brive fullback Romain Sola at the weekend:
And here is a piece he filmed with Rugbaí Beo on TG4 last year where he explains how a €5 bet from his mother ensured he took up rugby as a sport:
Originally published on 2 January.