Ian McKinley’s Incredible Story Should Be A Movie Says Conor O’Shea
Coming to a clubhouse near you.
Italy boss Conor O’Shea believes Ian McKinley’s miraculous journey to international rugby has a movie written all over it. McKinley was recently selected in O’Shea’s Italian squad for the upcoming November internationals as he continues to defy the odds.
McKinley lost sight in his left eye six years ago shortly after making his first start for Leinster under Joe Schmidt, after which he retired. Amazingly he laucnhed comeback in the Italian third division in 2014, and has since worked his way back into professional rugby with Treviso.
“Ian is a guy who can control a game really well,” O’Shea told RTÉ 2fm’s Game On..
“He attacks the line. I remember sitting down for a post-match meal with Joe after the Ireland-Italy game last Six Nations and talking about Ian.
“Joe really rated him, massively rated him. His injury, I have no doubt, stopped an Irish career. No doubt. It’s probably a movie in itself.
“You hear about people overcoming the odds. This is over and beyond. To go on a rugby pitch after what he’s gone through, and to play as well as he does, is a real achievement.”
After getting picked the extended squad, O’Shea has now set McKinley the target of making the matchday 23.
“For pure perseverance, against absolutely all the odds, for what he’s done in terms learning the language – it would put you to shame – he is just an exceptional role model in terms of having that mental toughness to never accept no,” O’Shea added
“It’s a real tribute to him. He’ll know the first battle will to be in the 34, the next battle will be the 31, the next battle will be the 23.
“With Tommaso Allan out injured I was delighted to be able to call in Ian. His reaction to it… he’s over the moon. I’m excited for him but it’s a lesson to anybody out there: never accept people saying you can’t do something. Getting into the match-day squad, that will be his next goal.”