Date of birth: 23 July 1997. Country: Ireland.


When did you start playing rugby?
In my first year of secondary school, at Summerhill College in Sligo, when I was 13. I joined Sligo rugby club after that as I happened to have a bit of a knack for playing rugby.

Which other sports did you play?
Mainly Gaelic Football at primary school, and soccer. I played a lot of basketball at secondary school.

Have you played different positions?
I can play second row or back row and I’ve always been quite tall, so I have done that from the start. I enjoyed hitting rucks and jumping in the lineout and had a knack for it from the start.

Who had a big influence on you?
Mickey O’Hehir and John Davey, my age-group coaches at Sligo. Paul O’Connell was my boyhood hero.

When did you join Connacht?
At U15 level I came in for summer training camps and stayed involved from there. After U18 I was brought into the Sub Academy. This season (2015-16) I’m training full-time with Connacht and playing for the Eagles.

When did you first play for Ireland?
Last year (2015), for the U18 Schools side. I played two matches, then went to the FIRA tournament and got concussed in the first game!

Was Ireland U20 your aim this season?
Big time! I wanted to get involved and I got a try four minutes into my first game, which was a good start. I feel like it’s my own age group, even though I’m a year young.

Are you hoping to play for Connacht seniors soon?
Definitely. I will keep pushing on and keep my head down and hope for a call-up. There is a great buzz about the place with the team going so well.

RW Verdict: Gallagher played every minute of Ireland’s U20 Six Nations campaign, helping them finish third, and then played at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship. At 6ft 5in and 17st 6lb, and blessed with great skills, he has what it takes to succeed as a lock or back-row.

First published in the May 2016 edition of Rugby World magazine.