Find out about the Saint’s journey from the back to the front row
Northampton Saints prop Emmanuel Iyogun
When did you first play rugby?
I must have been 14. It was at school, Woodlands. I did take some persuading as I was more of a footballer, but I got into rugby and have loved it ever since.
Your childhood hero?
How did the move from back row to prop come about?
To be honest, I didn’t really understand what I was getting into! I was an U18 academy player when Mark Hopley said, “I see a decent future for you at prop.” I thought I’d give it a go. When I started I’d play the first half at No 8, then I’d move forward.
What was the toughest part of the transition?
The physical. Skills-wise and fitness-wise it was okay but I had to put on weight to be a senior team prop. The S&C team and nutritionists have helped.
And do you still like to get the ball in your hands?
Yes, that’s my game. If you’re a prop who can run lines and get your hands on the ball it’s a bonus.
What are your strengths?
I’d like to say the attacking breakdown. I want to be all over the pitch, to cover a lot of mileage as a prop and almost be like an extra back-row. I think props should hold their own in the scrum and get around the pitch. I want to nail both of them.
Probably more physical carrying. And my tackle work and being more abrasive at the breakdown.
When did you link up with Saints?
At 16. I was playing for Southend and got spotted. It was quite a lot of travelling; I thank my parents for that. I wouldn’t be in this position without their sacrifices.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
I’ll go with a coach, Matt Ferguson. If I hadn’t been coached by him, I wouldn’t be in the position I am. It’s how patient he has been teaching me.
Are you studying?
I’m doing a joint honours law and criminology degree. It’s tough but I’m enjoying it. I’m doing it part-time so it will take five years.
RW Verdict: Northampton Saints prop Emmanuel Iyogun is becoming a regular for his club. Matt Ferguson helped Red Roses star Sarah Bern transition from back-row to prop while retaining her explosive ball-carrying ability and the coach looks to be doing the same with Iyogun.
This article originally appeared in Rugby World magazine’s September 2022 edition.
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