England rookie McConnochie has come from out of nowhere for late World Cup bid – The SunAugust 12, 2019
OUT of absolutely nowhere, rookie Ruaridh McConnochie booked an around-the-world ticket to Japan — via Rio and Bath.
In less than a year, the uncapped winger has gone from trying to convince Bath to take a shot at him to England’s World Cup squad.
The ex-Team GB Sevens star took a huge risk by ditching an easy life in the short form of the game after winning silver at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
And the 27-year-old’s gamble has paid off big time, as he heads to Tokyo as the ONLY uncapped player in the Red Rose’s squad of 31.
Asked whether he thought this was ever possible in his wildest dreams, he said: “I wouldn’t have believed you. Not at all.”
Boss Eddie Jones had picked him to make his debut against Wales last Sunday but a hip injury threatened to derail one of sport’s latest fairy-tales.
McConnochie said: “It was a dark 24 hours with the injury. Then come Monday morning, I was quite at peace. If it didn’t happen, I would have no regrets over the process.”
With clubs anxious to give Sevens players a chance, it was Bath who eventually took the punt on 6ft 3in McConnochie.
He recalled: “I remember chatting to my mates and thinking, ‘Do I want to leave the Sevens?’, because the environment is so unique and I’ve got such good memories there.
“I was thinking, ‘Why am I trying to fix something that isn’t broken, because I love it here’.
“It was more in the back of my head having never done an academy pathway and never being involved in professional 15s that I wanted to give it a try.
“If at the end of the first year it wasn’t going well, that’s life. But if it was, I would’ve hated to have retired from the Sevens and not given it a try.
“I would love to say all the clubs were coming to me. It was a bit of both.
“We were obviously asking around and Bath seemed quite interested and I’ve got a mutual link there with Dan Cooper, who was one of the analysts with England and GB.
“So he obviously knew me and knew my character and I would say he helped a lot to get my foot in the door.
“Then after that it was just trying to repay their trust and showing what I could do.
I’m incredibly lucky and incredibly proud to be part of it.
“I wouldn’t have expected it but it’s quite cool to be able to say I’ve done the tournaments I did with the Sevens and now a potential World Cup.
“I’m incredibly lucky and incredibly proud to be part of it. And Eddie has been great all the way through.
“He said something really good to me at the start, which was, ‘You are in because you’re great at what you do. Just be yourself. Don’t try to be anything else’.
“That gives an uncapped player like me massive confidence.”
Even Jones did not know much about McConnochie when he saw him tear it up for Bath against Premiership runners-up Exeter in late March.
The Aussie boss said: “He did a lot of good things. I remember driving back in the car and trying to find out more information about him.
“He is a big, tall guy with good feet and because you are close to the ground at Exeter, you can hear and see the communication of the players.
"He is a very good communicator. We found out more on him and he continued to play well.”
Now the whole country knows about him, McConnochie cannot wait to show the world what he can do.
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