This teenager has already impressed playing senior rugby for his province

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Leinster and Ireland U20 back-row Scott Penny

Date of birth 22 September 1999 Born Dublin Province Leinster Country Ireland Position Back-row

How did you get involved in rugby?

I started playing for Lansdowne when I was six or seven. My dad played and my older brother Alex joined, so I went along with him. I played there until I was 12 and then played for my school, St Michael’s.

Did you play any other sports growing up?

Lots. Gaelic (football) and hurling, tennis and golf. I played Gaelic until my third year of school, then focused on rugby. You can make a career of rugby and I preferred it. I like the physicality.

What positions have you played?

I’ve only ever played six, seven or eight. When I was younger I wanted to play in the backs but didn’t have the skills! Now I love back-row – you get the most involvements. I prefer seven the most.

Which players did you admire growing up?

With Ireland generally Sean O’Brien. I always liked Australia’s Michael Hooper too. I try to play a similar game to them.

Who’s been the biggest influence on you?

Andy Skehan – he coached me at St Michael’s, helped with my back-row skills and also got me talking a lot more. I used to be quite shy and he got me to express myself on the pitch, give input.

When did you link up with Leinster?

I played for the U18s and U19s, then joined the academy after my sixth year. I’ve played Ireland U18, U19 and U20 too.

Is it good to interact with the senior side?

It’s really helped. Sean O’Brien has reviewed games with me and in training players give tips. They’re all friendly and try to incorporate you in the group.

How have you found playing for the seniors?

It’s a dream come true. I was very nervous before my first game and the tempo was crazy fast and the contact very physical. It’s a big step up but I’m definitely more comfortable now.

RW VERDICT: Penny – a key figure in Ireland’s U20 Six Nations Grand Slam – is studying financial maths at UCD and things are certainly adding up for him rugby-wise.

This article originally appeared in the July 2019 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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