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Wootton 'a better person and player' after enduring two difficult years at Munster

The talented 26-year-old is thriving with Connacht, having joined the province on loan back in July.

Alex Wootton in training with Connacht.
Alex Wootton in training with Connacht.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

ALEX WOOTTON IS feeling revitalised since linking up with Connacht and the proof is in his performances.

Wootton has made a big impression in the west following his year-long loan switch from Munster in July.

The 26-year-old played a key role on the wing last weekend as Connacht began the new campaign with a 28-24 win over Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground.

“I played with a few of the lads here with the Irish U20s and I really didn’t realise how much of a lift and a fresh feel it would give me until I actually made the move,” he said ahead of this Saturday’s trip to Wales to take on Cardiff Blues.

With Tiernan O’Halloran, Matt Healy and Stephen Fitzgerald all unavailable due to injuries, head coach Andy Friend has been given food for thought by the formidable back-three combination of Wootton, Peter Sullivan and John Porch.

“Kudos to the coaches because they’re building a squad where nothing is set in stone,” said Wootton, who has been capped by Ireland at Sevens and U20 level.

“That’s a thing that might have happened before at other provinces – you could kind of say ‘that’s definitely their starting back three’, but here that’s definitely not the case and that’s bringing the best out of all of us. That goes right down through the squad and into the academy as well.”

Wootton scored 13 tries in 39 appearances for Munster, having debuted in September 2016. Opportunities with the southern province were limited over the past two seasons, while his progress was also curtailed by injury. Nevertheless, he’s now thriving in a new environment.

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“The last two years have been a struggle, there’s no doubt, but when I look back at it I’ve learned a hell of a lot,” said the English-born back, whose father hails from Down.

alex-wootton-scores-a-try-despite-sergeal-petersen Wootton scored four tries for Munster in a September 2017 win against the Cheetahs. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“I could look back and whinge and whine about it, but I was quite happy with the people I had around me – family and friends – so even though it was a tough period, I’m definitely a better person and player than I was from going through that.

“There were obviously injuries, non-selections and bits and bobs going on, but I’m happy that I’m here now.”

Asked if he feels he has a point to prove, Wootton responded: “To myself I think I have, because in the last two years I haven’t really played regularly.

“It’s kind of like being able to back up those two years of hard work. On those days when you were maybe a bit upset or disappointed, it was about making sure those days counted.

“In sport you’re trying to prove people wrong the whole time. Connacht, among the four provinces, will always be an underdog and Munster played that card quite a lot too, so I’m kind of used to being in a position to prove a point.”

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Paul Dollery

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