Leader caught on hop by Ireland call

Connacht full-back Darragh Leader presumed it was some of his team-mates having a laugh when Joe Schmidt rang him up this week to tell him he was in the Ireland squad.

Leader caught on hop by Ireland call

The 21-year old from Galway only broke into the Connacht team towards the end of last season and while he has started all seven games for them this season, clearly he wasn’t expecting a call from Schmidt.

And, according to his Connacht skipper John Muldoon, that first phone call did not go along the lines of what might be expected when a national coach rings a rookie with good news.

“I believe he thought it was some of the lads pranking him when Joe Schmidt rang him.

“I don’t think the phone call went as well as he would have liked it,” revealed Muldoon.

But Muldoon, who won the last of his three Ireland caps against the All Blacks in 2010, said the call-up is no more than the young full-back deserves.

“He has played extremely well and it is great for a lot of the younger lads and lads who maybe haven’t been involved in a squad to see Darragh, who was playing with Galwegians for most of last year, training with Ireland.

“So that gives real hope to the younger guys or anyone who is thinking about becoming a professional athlete. It is a great achievement for him, all he has to do now is push on and try and make the team,” added Muldoon.

Leader was given his first break two years ago by that club’s most famous son, Eric Elwood, when he gave the young Castlegar native 80 minutes against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.

The former Ireland U20 had to wait until last season for more action but he made his Heineken Cup debut against Toulouse at the Sportsground and by the end of the season had chalked up 16 appearances, half of them starts. He has now played 24 times for Connacht.

Connacht bid for their second win in the Challenge Cup when they travel to Exeter tomorrow to take on a Chiefs side defeated in the opening round away to Bayonne.

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