He’s been a regular hooker for Ireland U20 in recent years and you can find out more about Ronan Kelleher in our Q&A

Ireland U20 hooker Ronan Kelleher

Date of birth 24 January 1998 Born Dublin Province Leinster Country Ireland Position Hooker

When did you first play rugby?

At about four for Bective. My older brother, Cian, was playing and I got into it.

What positions did you play?

I was in the backs and slowly transitioned – wing, centre, back-row, then front-row. I’ve been at hooker since I was 16.

What do you like about the position?

You’re like a fourth back-row on the pitch – you get your hands on the ball and have to be defensively strong.

Did you play other sports growing up?

Lots – Gaelic football, tennis, basketball. The school I was in, St Michael’s College, is a big rugby school and everyone played, so from the age of six I’d be out playing rugby after school with friends.

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Cian is at Connacht now. Has it helped having an older brother follow the pro route?

He went to the same school as me and from there went to the Leinster Academy, so I look at his progression and think that’s what I have to do.

What’s been the best advice he’s given you?

That you have to back yourself.

What Ireland honours do you have?

My first interaction was with the U18s when Noel McNamara was head coach and it’s pretty cool that we have the same core group with Noel at U20s. He’s been with us since the start of the journey.

What are your strengths?

Ball-carrying and defence. Those would be my points of difference and what I try to work on.

Do you get to work with senior players at Leinster?

I bounce ideas off Richardt Strauss. We train with the seniors two or three times a week. It’s cool to see how they manage their bodies and prepare. There are good learnings I can implement into my life.

What are your goals for the rest of the season?

Individually, I’d love to get capped by Leinster. That’s a big goal. And come World Cup time to give it a really good crack – we’re in a group with France, South Africa and Georgia.

RW VERDICT: A mature prospect. His leadership qualities are evident while he has the perfect mentors in an older brother who is also a pro and the hookers at Leinster. Off the field, he is studying commerce at UCD.

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Rugby World magazine. Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.