Sam Arnold wearing the 'blue' of Ireland
DURING the second half of Ireland’s autumn international win over the USA in Dublin on Saturday, Munster’s Sam Arnold was sprung from the bench to make his full international debut.
It has been some whirlwind 18 months for Arnold as he began last season playing All-Ireland League rugby with Garryowen.
Arnold’s achievement in being capped by Joe Schmidt at the weekend is a triumph for resilience and sheer hard work.
Arnold joined Munster at the start of the 2016/2017 season, but knee injuries seriously curtailed the centre's involvement, making just one senior competitive appearance that season against Treviso in Thomond Park.
In contrast, after kicking-off last season playing in the AILs top flight with the Light Blues, the former Ireland U-20 international forced his way into the Munster side, featuring in the two big Champions Cup fixtures against Leicester in December and the European knock-out games against Toulon at Thomond Park and Racing 92 in Bordeaux.
The meteoric rise of scrum-half Neil Cronin this season at Munster also highlights the invaluable role the All-Ireland league can play in the development of players.
The healthy crowd which attended last Friday night’s top flight derby clash of Garryowen and Young Munster at Dooradoyle also shows the level of interest that exists locally in the club game.
Why not get along to an AIL game over the next three weeks!