Connacht Rugby has signed a new prop to replace the long-term injured former English international Robbie Morris.
Rodney Ah You, a member of New Zealand’s winning junior world cup sides in both 2007 and 2008, will join Connacht in the next 10 days as a permanent replacement for Morris who has been forced to retire.
Ah You has been given an 18 month contract that will run for the remainder of this season and next season - the first Connacht player to receive an agreement longer than the existing one-year contracts brought in by the IRFU last year.
Ah You comes to Connacht after two seasons with top New Zealand provincial side Canterbury following something of a meteoric rise in rugby. Ah You only started playing rugby at age 16 having spent his youth as a boxer, following in his Samoan father’s footsteps who was a Golden Glove boxer. However after moving to Christchurch, Ah You attended Christchurch Boys’ High School, a school with a strong rugby reputation and within four years he had represented Canterbury at u-17, u-18, u-19 and Colts levels, while also playing for both the New Zealand u-19 and u-20s at their respective world cups. He first came to the notice of Connacht coach Eric Elwood and assistant Dan McFarland during those tournaments where he making three appearances for the Baby Blacks, including New Zealand’s 65 - 10 win over Ireland en route to claim the 2008 world title.
From the Linwood and Sydenham clubs, he made his debut for Canterbury last season, and is one of five props currently in the Canterbury squad that includes Wyatt Crockett, Andrew Olorenshaw, Owen Franks and tighthead Peter Borlase, who is joining Munster at the end of this season.
Ah You is a versatile tighthead prop, who can also play at loosehead, and having celebrated his 22nd birthday yesterday, is regarded as a player with a huge future.
Connacht manager Tim Allnutt says the province is delighted to have secured Ah You after several months searching the globe for a replacement for Morris.
“Ah You is a player with massive potential who is a versatile prop with a strong workrate. Prop positions are hard to fill and we are delighted he is coming to Connacht, having played at a high level in New Zealand despite being only 22.”
Connacht already have three props on three month trials, South African Dylan Rogers, Australian Barry Fa’amausili, and St Mary’s Rob Sweeney, creating stiff competition in the front row.