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Who is Cormac Izuchukwu? All you need to know about the latest Academy prospect set for senior Ulster debut

 

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Cormac Izuchukwu is in line to make senior Ulster debut off the bench tomorrow.

Cormac Izuchukwu is in line to make senior Ulster debut off the bench tomorrow.

©INPHO/James Crombie

Cormac Izuchukwu is in line to make senior Ulster debut off the bench tomorrow.

Cormac Izuchukwu is set to become the sixth Academy player to make his senior Ulster bow should he come off the bench against Glasgow on Friday.

Following in the footsteps of Aaron Sexton, Nathan Doak, Callum Reid, Ben Moxham and David McCann from earlier in the season, Izuchukwu is the latest promising sign from a highly-rated Academy crop.

But just what do we know about him?

We've put together a quick guide below or follow this link for Jonathan Bradley's in-depth interview with Izuchukwu last year:

All you need to know about Cormac Izuchukwu

Age: 21

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Position: Lock

Birthplace: London, England

Hometown: Kilcormac, Offaly

Height: 6'7 (2m)

Weight: 17 stone (107kg)

Nickname: Izzy

Playing style: The definition of power is force multiplied by speed. It's not a bad word, then, to sum up Izuchukwu, whose commanding height and weight are matched by his speed as a former All-Ireland Cross Country champion. "Always looking to keep the ball alive by looking for the offload, he plays a similar style of game to Leone Nakarawa," wrote Adam McKendry on watching him play for Ulster 'A' last month.

Early life: Izuchukwu was born in London to a Nigerian father and Irish mother but moved to Offaly at the age of seven. His family is steeped in sporting history, mum Catriona the cousin of Offaly's All Ireland-winning hurling brothers, Joe, Billy and Johnny Dooley. That meant his early sporting influences were principally GAA (both hurling and football, which he played underage for Offaly) and basketball while he also showed promise in the athletics arena, even winning that All-Ireland Cross Country title with Tullamore Harriers.

 

Introduction to rugby: A young Cormac was first introduced to rugby at Tullamore RFC but it was when he switched schools from Coláiste Choilm to board at Cistercian College Roscrea in fourth year that his focus was really fixed on the oval ball and the sport went from a hobby to a potential career. His early days were spent as a centre but, after a growth spurt that saw Izuchukwu shoot up five inches in a matter of months, he was moved into the pack.

Switch to Scotland: By his sixth year, Izuchukwu was showing signs of having the ability to go further in the sport and was invited for an Under 19 trials day with Connacht. A twisted ankle cost him his spot at the day and so he missed out on playing representative rugby that summer, helping to spark a move to Scotland. That came about through an advert on what he described as 'a Gumtree for rugby players' as he move to the Scottish Borders to play for Kelso RFC, a club with a strong history of Sevens rugby. A youtube account by the name of 'Cormac Izzy' then uploaded this video of highlights as Izuchukwu looked to progress his career:

 

Izuchukwu the international: Perhaps not coincidentally, it was the small-sided game that would provide Izuchukwu with his first taste of international rugby, when he was sought out by IRFU Director of Women’s and Sevens Rugby Anthony Eddy. That would ultimately lead to an Ireland debut in summer 2019, as Cormac marked the occasion with a try against Scotland. He would then go on to finish the RugbyX tournament in London as the top try-scorer later that year. He also worked with the Ireland Under 20s XVs camp, where he met Ulster Academy boss Kieran Campbell.

Arrival at Ulster: Izuchukwu was brought into the Ulster Academy last summer and scored against both Munster 'A' and the Connacht Eagles in December before also impressing in January's win over Leinster 'A' and sparking his call-up to the senior panel.

Bright future: So the 21-year-old is one of that growing list of Ulster Academy players tipped for big things. The next chapter is about to begin.

Belfast Telegraph


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