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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Player Focus: Paddy Wallace

Player Focus: Paddy Wallace

In 2003, Paddy Wallace was called into the Ireland World Cup squad as a replacement for the injured Jonny Bell. Uncapped, Wallace had little chance of playing at the tournament but admitted “it was a great experience to be involved.” Roll on four years and as second choice out-half, he is set to make his first World Cup appearance next month. IrishRugby.ie looks at the Ulster player’s career to date.

PADDY WALLACE (BALLYMENA/ULSTER):

Born: Belfast, August 27, 1979
Height: 5ft 11in; Weight: 12st 7lbs
Position: Out-Half
Ulster Caps: 84
Ulster Points: 246 (11 tries, 34 conversions, 37 penalty goals and 4 drop goals)
Ulster Debut: v Swansea, August 2001
Ireland Caps: 4
Ireland Points: 35 (1 try, 9 conversions, 4 penalty goals)
Ireland Debut: v South Africa, November 2006

Player Record

PLAYER FACTS:

– Came on as an injury-time replacement against South Africa in November 2006 to make his senior debut. Two weeks later, he scored 26 points in a man of the match performance against the Pacific Islanders on his full Ireland debut

– When he started against the Pacific Islanders last autumn, Wallace was the first Ireland number 10 who was not David Humphreys or Ronan O’Gara for 78 Test matches (seven years)

– Born in Belfast, he was educated at Mike Gibson’s old school Campbell College. His father Paul played for Ballymena and London Irish as a number 10

– Wallace holds a degree in business studies and marketing from UCD where he graduated from the college’s rugby Academy. He starred for UCD in a number of Colours matches against Trinity

– Wallace has been with Ulster since 2001 and although an out-half, he found Humphreys as first choice with the province so he became a utility back and is equally comfortable at number 12 or 15

– He has played for Ireland at Under-19, Under-21, ‘A’, Sevens and senior levels. In undoubtedly one of his best performances in an Irish jersey, he scored 20 points against the All Blacks in an ‘A’ international at Ravenhill in 2001

– Along with Brian O’Driscoll and Donncha O’Callaghan, he was a member of the Irish team that won the Under-19 FIRA/World Youth Championship in France in 1998. He helped Ballymena win the AIB League Divison One title in 2003

PLAYER TRIVIA:

Paddy is nicknamed ‘Pumbaa’ after the warthog in the Lion King movie. He cites cycling legend Lance Armstrong as his sporting hero and former champion jockey Richard Dunwoody is one of his cousins.

A fan of rock music, his favourite band is the Killers and he enjoys watching the Godfather films. The person he would have most liked to have met was former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton who sadly passed away in 1999.

PLAYER QUOTES:

ON THE SCOTLAND GAME:

“It will be great, if I do go to the World Cup, to get a game under my belt before the tournament starts. It would be very positive for me to have a good game against the Scots. Game-time is much needed with the World Cup just around the corner.

“I think Scotland haven’t beaten Ireland in a good few years. They’ll certainly be targeting this match for a victory on home soil. If they put in anything close to the performance they did against us in the Six Nations at Murrayfield, it will be another tough game for us.”

ON THE ARGENTINA TOUR:

“I got to play probably half a match against Argentina over the two Tests. That was very frustrating because I was going out to with the opportunity of getting two Tests under my belt. Obviously that didn’t happen due to injury.

“It was just one of those things where I got a bang before half-time I tried to stay on the pitch but unfortunately I couldn’t. I strained my medial ligament in my right leg – my kicking leg.

“The three weeks I had off (earlier in the summer) gave me the opportunity get back to full fitness and I’m 100% now.”

ON PLAYING OUT-HALF FOR ULSTER LAST SEASON:

“There weren’t many opportunities to play at 10 for Ulster last season, but that run-in of the last four or five matches was crucial to put me in the frame for the Argentina tour.

“I haven’t thought much about the end of last season. I’ve just been focusing on the pre-season – so far it’s been good and hopefully that will continue on into the World Cup.”

ON HIS GOAL-KICKING:

“It’s come on since a few seasons before. I’ve had a lot more time to work with (Ireland kicking coach) Mark Tainton, obviously being involved with all the camps. It’s something that’s improved.”

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