Phil Pretorius is possibly one of the least known coaches in the history of Irish rugby - but maybe we should be owing a huge debt of gratitude to him. The former head coach of the Bulls in Super Rugby was perhaps extremely overqualified to take on the role at Galway Corinthians several years ago - but looking at the players he's brought through - Irish Rugby owes him a lot.
Pretorious helped a Corinthians team featuring current Ireland internationals Finlay Bealham and Ultan Dillane, as well as future internationals Denis Buckley, James Connolly, and Eoghan Masterson, get promoted from Ulster Bank League Division 2B.
Not all rising stars get a chance to play under a coach who would have managed international legends like Victor Matfield, Danie Roussouw, and Bakkies Botha. Dillane remembers how much Pretorious did for him, even down to the detailed reviews of his performances after the UBL games.
Speaking two years after he coached Dillane at Corinthians, Pretorious still has fond memories of the new Ireland international, and had no doubts that the wiry lock would make it in international rugby. He even gave Dillane a massive compliment by comparing him to one of his former charges:
Ultan was totally unassuming off the pitch but always very coachable. His only problem was that his body wasn’t able to take the punishment he put it through. But I told him he would play international rugby someday — and I’ve worked with Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha and Danie Roussouw. Of that lot, he’s closest to Bakkies. He doesn’t know when to stop.
Of course, not knowing when to stop hasn't always worked for Dillane. You can see it's affect on the pitch with the Tralee man's tireless engine - but Dillane has had his fair share of injuries in his short career too. Two surgeries on his shoulder nearly ended his career before it started, while he's spent time on the sidelines with a broken foot too.
Connacht and Ireland are just happy Dillane's able to put his pain behind him, and inflict it on the opposition.
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Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) May 15, 2016