Kiwi-born Rodney Ah You makes Ireland squad
Former New Zealand U20 and Canterbury prop Rodney Ah You has become the latest Kiwi to join the ranks of the northern powers after he was included in the Ireland training squad for the upcoming Six Nations.
The 25-year-old, who joined Irish province Connacht in 2010, qualifies for Ireland on residency grounds and is one of seven new caps included by fellow Kiwi and coach, Joe Schmidt.
Ah You, a product of Christchurch Boys' High, was a late starter in rugby and only took up the sport as a 16-year-old, preferring to concentrate on boxing before that.
He qualified for Ireland in October last year and recently signed a contract with Connacht to keep him at the province until at least June 2016.
Speaking at the time of his signing, club coach Pat Lam expressed his delight at securing the prop's services for the coming seasons.
"When I arrived here at the end of last season, we gave Rodney a one-year extension to prove to us that he has the ability to fulfil his obvious potential," Lam said.
"We are now delighted that he has signed a new contract which will secure him to Connacht for two more seasons. As a young prop who can play loosehead or tighthead and a good team man Rodney will be a huge asset."
Schmidt named an initial training squad of 44 players ahead of Ireland's opening Six Nations clash with Scotland in Dublin on February 2.
Former British and Irish Lions captain Paul O'Connell will captain the side which enters its final tournament with the talismanic Brian O'Driscoll as part of the playing squad. The 34-year-old centre has announced he will retire from all rugby at the end of the current northern hemisphere season.
Also included in the squad is former Chiefs and Hurricanes halfback Isaac Boss who has been a regular in the Irish setup since leaving New Zealand shores for Ulster in 2005.
The Irish have also been hit on the injury front with world-class flanker Sean O'Brien ruled out of the entire competition after undergoing surgery.
Forwards: R Ah You (Connacht), S Archer (Munster), R Best (Ulster), R Copeland (Cardiff Blues), S Cronin (Leinster), R Diack (Ulster), C Healy, J Heaslip (both Leinster), I Henderson, C Henry, R Herring (all Ulster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), M McCarthy, J McGrath, M Moore, Jordi Murphy (all Leinster), P O'Connell, T O'Donnell, P O'Mahony (all Munster), M Ross, R Ruddock, D Toner (all Leinster), D Tuohy (Ulster), D Varley (Munster),
Backs: I Boss (Leinster), D Cave (Ulster), G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster), R Henshaw (Connacht), P Jackson (Ulster), F Jones (Munster), D Kearney, R Kearney (both Leinster), I Keatley (Munster), I Madigan (Leinster), K Marmion (Connacht), L Marshall (Ulster), F McFadden (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), B O'Driscoll, E Reddan (both Leinster), J Sexton (Racing Metro), A Trimble (Ulster).