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RaboDirect Rising Stars: Craig Gilroy (Ulster)

Guinness PRO12 Editor

25 Apr 2012

Craig Gilroy scored the first of three tries for the home side

Ulster winger Craig Gilroy, the latest of our RaboDirect PRO12 rising stars, burst on to the scene with a scorching two-try debut against the Cardiff Blues last year and has hardly looked back since.

The 21-year-old has already caught the eye of Declan Kidney who included him in Ireland’s Six Nations training squad at the start of this year.

And with Brian McLaughlin’s men fighting on two fronts with a spot in the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs and a Heineken Cup semi-final against Edinburgh in their sights much is expected of the Irish speedster.

But rather than hide from the big occasion Gilroy welcomes the challenge of taking on some of the best the game of rugby has to offer.

But it could have all been so different for the former Methodist College pupil who, as we discovered, took a while to warm to rugby.

My first rugby memories probably involve me playing at primary school and for Bangor Minis. But to tell the truth I was much more into soccer and Gaelic football as a kid and it took me a while to really discover rugby, I was playing in the pack to start with!

Since I’ve moved out of home I don’t really watch X-Factor or Strictly or those types of shows anymore. But back in the day my mum and my sisters used to love those shows so I would have to sit through them.

I normally go to the gym with Paddy Jackson (Ulster and Ireland U20s fly-half). He’s a good partner to have because he’s a bit of a mess, he makes me laugh but we get some good work done in there as well.

The player I would least like to meet down a dark alley would have to be Mauro Bergamasco. That guy’s a pretty intimidating figure and not someone I’d be keen to mess with.

If you ask my flat-mate he would definitely tell you that my worst trait is that I'm a bad winner. We play a lot of FIFA on the Xbox at our flat and I'm certainly not shy of rubbing it in his face every time I beat him, interestingly I'm not that bad a loser but when I win I go pretty big with my celebrations.

I always listen to the same playlist before every game I play in. Even more strangely for away games I like to have three songs in particular that play as I enter the ground, Space Bound by Eminem, Mountains by Biffy Clyro and BYOB by System of a Down, they all get me pretty pumped up.

My best mates in rugby are probably Paddy Jackson, Ali Birch and Tommy Seymour. They’re all great guys, I’d like to think that they would say nice things about me as well, it will be pretty embarrassing if they don’t! I’m a pretty determined nice guy, unless I beat you at FIFA in which case I can be a nightmare.

I’ve been really getting into American Football recently and if I wasn’t a rugby player I would have loved the chance to play in a Super Bowl. I don’t think you can get a much bigger occasion than that in the whole of sport. I recorded this year’s one over night and watched it the next day, it’s a pretty cool sport.

I don’t have the most interesting of nicknames unfortunately. Everyone just calls me ‘Gilly’ or ‘Gillers’ if they’re feeling really adventurous!