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Thursday 14 December 2017

Wing whizz O'Loughlin about to sign fresh two-year contract for Leinster

Rory O’Loughlin is about to sign a new Leinster deal. Pic: Sportsfile
Rory O’Loughlin is about to sign a new Leinster deal. Pic: Sportsfile

Rory O'Loughlin is believed to be on the verge of signing a two-year deal.

It will be his first senior contract for Leinster and, boy, has he earned it.

This time last year, the soon-to-be 22-year-old was playing 'Sevens' and watching and waiting as his childhood friend Cian Kelleher made the decision to leave Leinster for Connacht.

O'Loughlin just needed to feel truly wanted in the same way. Now, he does.

"I never had an offer or anything like that," he said.

"I'm not saying if this year hadn't gone to plan and I got an offer from Connacht and I'd not been offered to stay on here, it is certainly something I would have thought of.

"I wasn't going to give up the opportunity of playing professional rugby, if I had the opportunity to keep playing.

"It's just that when you are in the Academy and you are in your final year, I just felt that's my chance to make it here and that's where all my friends and family are."

The natural outside centre is, arguably, the only first fifteen Leinster player - Dave Kearney and Fergus McFadden will have something to say about that - to still reside in the Academy.

In general, the emphasis from thirteen is on making those around you look better by making chances, not taking them.

That use to be one of O'Loughlin's strengths, as a creator of tries.

Now, he is getting use to the glory of a goalscorer.

With achievement comes recognition, as O'Loughlin found out when his alma mater St Michael's played Wellington College the morning after Leinster's night before against Montpellier.

"I was actually back in St Michaels on Saturday watching the Junior Cup game and a few of the kids were coming up to me," he said.

Weird

"That was weird enough seeing as I was only there three years ago."

It conjures up the image of Brian O'Driscoll being mobbed by star-struck schoolboys when the centre burst onto the international scene.

O'Loughlin's seven tries in six matches, two of them against Northampton in the Champions Cup, have been the rockets for his explosive take-off.

"It's been great. I've absolutely loved it," he said.

"The lads inside me have been making a few of them quite easy for me.

"When you're playing with players like that you know they have the confidence to beat the first defender and get their hands free.

"You just need to run a good support line and, if you do that, you have a good chance of getting the ball."

And he gets it.

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