It does not matter to Alex Wootton whether his tries are spectacular or, as he puts it, “cheeky”, the Munster wing enjoys each variety and has shown he can do both with equal aplomb.
The last two weekends have showcased the 22-year-old’s creative skillset as well as the killer instinct for the try line that could make Wootton a Munster regular in seasons to come but for now he is just looking to make the most of the opportunities remaining in his debut senior season.
Wootton has been with the province since the summer of 2013, when as an Ireland U20 he was signed by Munster from the Northampton Saints academy. The road to his senior debut last September in the Guinness PRO12 home game against Edinburgh has taken the wing to Garryowen and the Ireland Sevens team as well as a shoulder injury which curtailed his progress in the middle of the current campaign.
Not enough to prevent director of rugby Rassie Erasmus signalling his belief in Wootton’s potential by offering him a new contract, signed in March with the wing already making some early repayments of the faith shown in him.
A wonderful solo try against Jersey at Musgrave Park a fortnight ago saw Wootton score a crucial five points in Munster A’s come from behind B&I Cup final victory over Jersey, the powerful back receiving a Coan Bohane offload on his own 10-metre line before jinking his way past three defenders with some blistering pace and a super couple of steps.
Sensational try by Alex Wootton for Munster 'A' in their British & Irish Cup final win over Jersey. pic.twitter.com/wd9meCIS6o— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) April 21, 2017
A week later and Wootton was scoring from inside the opposition 22 as Munster booked a home PRO12 semi-final with a bonus-point win at Treviso.
“A cheeky try in the corner, I enjoyed it,” Wootton said of his score in Italy. “If I went past 10 people then I wouldn’t say it was a cheeky try but it was nice to dart in the corner. It was the third try of the game so it was nice.”
The effect of winning the B&I Cup should not be underestimated and Wootton said he and his fellow A team players had noted the progress made by their predecessors from the victorious 2012 side.
“For a young bunch of lads it’s very important because the season for a lot of boys could have finished just after Christmas, but it was great to have the semi-final and final to push on through the season for some boys because they’d have been playing AIL so it’s definitely important and obviously for the growth of players as well.
“You’ve got the likes of Killer (Dave Kilcoyne) who won the last B&I Cup and you can see where they are today. They’re playing in a semi-final of the Champions Cup so that gives the team belief because if we can do that, we can push on as individuals, as a team and as co-players to get there so it’s very important for us.”
With Wootton having come off the bench in Treviso a week later as an early replacement for Ronan O’Mahony, whose season as Munster’s leading try scorer was ended with a fractured fibula, his second-half try was an ideal statement to make with the league campaign reaching its conclusion this Saturday and the PRO12 semi-finals to come.
“I don’t consider myself an injury-prone player but the last two years I broke my foot last year and then my shoulder, it was the first surgery I have had so I guess that has held me back a little bit. I would have liked to have got more caps this year but you can’t dwell on things like that.
“I will just take what I am given and take it with both hands and just put my best put forward.”
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