Height: 6′ 1′
Date of Birth: September 19th, 1987
Birthplace: Cork, Ireland
Golden boy? Great white hope for Irish rugby? These are questions that many pundits are asking when talking about the mercurial Luke Fitzgerald – and frankly, speaking as a completely unbiased Irishman, Fitzgerald has all the attributes to rise to the very top of the international game.
Fitzgerald – currently studying for a degree at University College Dublin – has simmered gently onto the international scene in the last few seasons, after a series of injuries and some gentle bleeding-in by former Ireland boss Eddie O’Sullivan. Son of former Ireland prop Des, Luke made his senior Leinster debut in September 2006. At the end of the 05/06 season he was studying for his Leaving Cert at Blackrock and helping them to a 65th Schools Cup final win.
Fitzgerald was capped by the Leinster and Ireland Schools teams and was part of the Ireland Schools XV that completed a clean sweep of wins in 2005, winning the Irish Examiner Young Rugby Player of the Year award that same year.
His early season form, which included tries on his Heineken Cup debut against Edinburgh as well as his recent ‘A’ international debut has seen him called up to the senior side for the first time.
Fitzgerald made his debut against the Pacific Islanders during the last ever international at the old Lansdowne Road in the Guinness Autumn Series becoming the 999th player to pull on an Ireland jersey.
However, it was the recent friendly fixture against the Barbarians that catapulted Fitzgerald to the top of the pile, during which he put in a glittering performance at outside centre following Brian O’Driscoll’s late omission. This led to calls for him to start alongside O’Driscoll at inside centre against the All Blacks in the first game of Ireland’s tour down under. However, it wasn’t to be for Fitzgerald as injury ruled him out of the series, with Paddy Wallace filling in.
Despite this setback, the future is bright for Fitzgerald, with his inclusion in new Ireland coach Declan Kidney’s first squad for the Autumn internationals.
Definitely one to watch.