Belfast Telegraph

Memory of my mum pushing me to achieve greatness: Porter

 

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

The first thing you notice about Andrew Porter when he settles into the office chair at the top of Leinster's boardroom is his size.

In the past year, Leinster's 21-year-old rising star has paid tribute to his late mother by tattooing his left arm.

On his enormous bicep is a depiction of a statue in Rome, a place they holidayed together before her death in 2008, while on his forearm is a dove. In between is the inscription of her name.

Sadly, Wendy Porter never got to see her son make his Ireland debut in New Jersey in June, or play in front of 53,000 people at the Aviva Stadium earlier this month, but he hopes she's looking down full of pride.

"My dad was the one who got me into rugby when I was five, but she was very sporty herself and she always kind of kept me going that way," he says.

"When she passed it was a big driving factor for me. To keep the family proud. I was about 12. I guess, in a way, it affected my life in a lot of different ways. If she's looking over me, I'd like to think she's looking down, smiling down at me, that I'm doing her proud."

This is just the first chapter in Porter's sporting life. Clearly he is ear-marked for big things.

Rugby, Porter reveals, only became a serious career prospect 18 months ago when he was tearing up trees for the Under-20s.

"When I came in here, you're surrounded by everyone else, it's almost like a motivating factor to... I wouldn't say out-lift them but it's great being with people driven by the same goals as you are," he said.

"I get the best of both worlds, I get to train day-in, day-out in the gym and then go out and do what I love on the pitch.

"It was just always a big kind of hobby for me, always being in the gym. My strength and conditioning coach in St Andrew's was a big motivator for me. David Jones, he's still there now. He did great things with me and my team when I was in sixth year.

"I kind of almost got big and tried to build my rugby skills around it. Now I can kind of focus more on my rugby skills and keep pushing forward in my scrumming and stuff like that."

His dad, Ernie, was a centre for Carlow RFC and Old Wesley, but it became clear early on that Andrew was destined for the front row.

"It's about pushing myself here at Leinster, pushing for a spot, pushing for that Champions Cup spot and getting a result. The Six Nations is a big goal for me, yeah, but this window in Leinster is a big opportunity for me," he added.

"I haven't played Champions Cup yet, but that's the next step for me I think.

"If all goes well with my performance (against Benetton) this week, hopefully I'll put my name in the hat against Exeter."

Belfast Telegraph

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