Munster winger Alex Wootton breaks a tackle in Saturday's Guinness PRO14 win over Ospreys in Swansea
MUNSTER winger Alex Wootton says the last time he scored four tries in a game – following his sensational haul against the Cheetahs – was probably in a school’s match for Sedbergh School, the alma mater of former England captain Will Carling and Gloucester and England winger James Simpson-Daniel.
Wootton’s wing wizardy against the Pro 14 newcomers from South Africa at Thomond Park earlier this season propelled him onto a whole new level with the Munster public.
What many Munster fans watching in the stands and at home on TV won’t have realised is that Wootton is in his fifth season at Munster having come through the province’s Academy system.
In dotting down four times against the Cheetahs, Wootton became the first Munster player since Mike Mullins in 2001 to notch a four-timer.
Speaking in the wake of Garryowen’s Ulster Bank League victory over UCD at Dooradoyle on Saturday, 23-year-old Wootton said of his try-scoring feat against the Cheetahs: “Most of it is self-belief. I know I can do that week in and week out. It might take a few games for people who don't know me to realise that.
“That is something which I bring to the table. The more times I can do it with Munster, I just need to keep performing and when I can get more gametime that is when I think things will start to happen, hopefully get onto the next level with Ireland and hopefully push on.
"I was thinking back, I probably scored four tries at schools level. I scored a few hat-tricks for Garryowen. Four tries, when I looked back on the video, there were a few easy ones, I like to score the harder ones, but I will take any tries.
"Earlsie (Keith Earls) was injured through pre-season and for a few games into the new season, so I got the opportunity, you'd say, but there is definitely competition there.
"It is a matter of being injury free and when those opportunities come, just take them and give the Munster coaches a bit of a headache.”
Wootton, who has now made 14 competitive appearances over the past two seasons for Munster – scoring seven tries – signed a contract extension last March that will see him remain at the province until at least June 2019.
Wootton added: "The internationals have been back fully playing now and it got to the point where I missed a few games and you want to get gametime under your belt and next Friday we have the Dragons. The internationals are away, so hopefully I will be involved in that.
"It is nice to get the 80 minutes under the belt today (with Garryowen) and hopefully it will put me in a good position for next weekend.
"We have a break when the autumn internationals are on. I will be looking forward to that.”
Former Ireland U-20 international Wootton, who was part of the Northampton Saints academy before moving to Munster, scored a stunning solo try in Munster A’s British and Irish Cup final win over Jersey at Musgrave Park last April.
Wootton receives a Cian Bohane offload on his own 10-metre line before jinking his way past three defenders with some blistering pace and a super couple of steps.
“The best (try) I ever scored? It would be up there I would say. I scored a few at school. The meaning of it, it got us back in the game, so it would be up there.
”I was working so hard behind the scenes, getting my shoulder right and that was a proper game and showcased what I was doing in the high performance centre with the physios and S&C coaches. It was nice.”
Wootton is looking to add to his Munster caps and harbours ambitions of playing for Ireland.
"The way things have gone this season has been great. It is nice to have signed a two-year deal. It was the first time I signed a two-year since I came over. You don't have that in the back of your mind. You can just play rugby. That side of things is great.
"The reason I moved over here was because of my Irish heritage. I wanted to play rugby for Ireland. I love rugby.”