Ireland star Will Connors on his rude awakening playing GAA in KIldare
"They absolutely made a mess of me!"
Will Connors is the first to admit it, one of his stand-out memories of playing senior level GAA was a men vs. boys outing.
Youth versus Experience and making the ball do the work. Will Connors got an early lesson in the way of the sporting world but he may have to wait a while to make it count in GAA.
The Leinster and Ireland flanker comes from Donadea in North Kildare, not far from the Meath border. GAA was his first sporting passion but rugby is now his profession. He made his Schools Cup name with Clongowes Wood College and joined Leinster's sub-academy in 2015 [graduating to the full academy in 2016].
Now with over 30 games for province and country under his belt, Connors is eyeing a training comeback in early November and will be fixing on a Leinster return when the United Rugby Championship resumes after the Test window.
On House of Rugby URC [LISTEN from 3:00 below], Connors told hosts Greg O'Shea, Megan Williams and Jason Hennessy about his GAA background and how he took important learnings from early encounters with crafty inter-county veterans.
Connors was already of Leinster's radar from the age of 15 when he was shifting it for Clongowes in the Junior Cup.
He switched between GAA and rugby, even as he started gaining traction with Leinster, and will never forget a scalding he endured when lining out for his local team.
"I played with a small club, my local club, Cappagh. We weren't that strong a club, but a really good community. Everyone knew each other and everyone in my primary school would have played football. That was where everyone went. Rugby was nearly secondary to that.
"I'd say the last game of football I played was probably around four or five years ago, for the seconds team down there, just for a bit of fitness. I remember playing against lads that would be into their 40s, like 45. They would have up inter-county footballers in their time. I was like, 'Ah, I'll run around with these lads'. They absolutely made a mess of me!
"These lads are so on-point with the game - they know how it flows and that the ball is going to end up over there. You end up running around like a headless chicken. It's a lovely game and, to be honest, I'll definitely go back playing for my local club whenever I get the chance."
While Connors was buzzing about and expending all his energy, those inter-county lads, even though they were pushing on, had it all figured out.
It may be a decade or so before Connors does get back to line out for Cappagh - like Rob Kearney recently did with Cooley Kickhams - but he may be relying on that experience while the next generation of young bucks peg it all over the pitch.
WATCH THAT FULL EPISODE HERE: