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Curtis hoping to follow in family's footsteps


Savouring it: Angus Curtis is with the Ulster Academy
Savouring it: Angus Curtis is with the Ulster Academy

By Cian Tracey

Angus Curtis was born in Zimbabwe and later went to school in South Africa, but his dream was always to follow in his father David's footsteps and play for Ireland.

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David Curtis was Irish-qualified through his own father Brian, who also represented his country as a flanker during World War II.

David, like his son Angus, was an abrasive centre, who won 13 caps and featured at the 1991 World Cup.

Now, having made the move to Ulster, Angus has become a key player for the Ireland U20s in their Six Nations campaign.

The 19-year-old still has a way to go before he reaches the levels that his father and grandfather did, and back home he is regularly reminded of that.

"He does," Curtis smiled when asked if his dad shows him footage of his playing days. "But it's all on video tape so we can't watch it! Whenever it comes up on the TV, he calls all three (sons) in and says, 'Watch how it's done!'

"He hasn't forced me into it, but he's kind of slowly guided me into it. He's been out of the game for a long time but he's always given me lots of support and my little brother, older brother, all of us have played rugby."

The grainy footage of days gone by acts as a source of inspiration for where Curtis wants to get to, and although he might have had other options, there was never any doubt about who he wanted to represent.

"My dad played for Ireland so from a young age it was always in the back of my mind," he insisted. "You can't really make a decision that early but at the end of school, I wanted to push on and give rugby a crack."

The IRFU have always kept tabs on his progress and when the offer to join Ulster's Academy came along, Curtis jumped at it.

"I came from school in South Africa, I was born and grew up in Zimbabwe," he explained. "I linked up with the Ulster Academy in January 2017. I've been there for a year and a half now and I've loved the transition.

"Physicality-wise, South African rugby players are big boys and there's a massive emphasis on the physical side of the game. That made coming over easier."

Playing with the U20s has eased any concerns that Curtis may have made the wrong decision in moving on his own, and that point was hammered home by getting to train with Joe Schmidt's side this week.

"It's been awesome," he enthused. "Any time you get to put on your country's jersey, it's an awesome experience."

The aim now is to build on the progress with the U20s, finish the Six Nations on a high and build towards the Junior World Cup in June.

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