Perhaps Oliver Jager is a disciple of Robert Frost's poetry. The Blackrock college alumni has chosen the path less travelled for Irish rugby players, deciding to pitch his luck in down in New Zealand in an attempt to make a career out of playing rugby. It's working.
Jager's last game in Ireland was in the 2013 Leinster Schools Senior Cup final. It's a game that has produced 13 Ireland U20s, 12 academy contracts, and three full contracts between the two teams on show that day - Garry Ringrose's Blackrock, and James Ryan's St. Michael's College.
Jager is now getting gametime for Canterbury in New Zealand's famed Mitre10 Cup - (formerly the ITM Cup - an equivalent standing to the PRO12). He got 20 minutes off the bench against Auckland in a team that featured All Blacks Steven Luatua and new call-up Rieko Ioane.
He's playing so well, that Stuff media profiled the prop and his unlikely journey from Blackrock College to Canterbury's academy learning under the likes of All Blacks Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, and Joe Moody:
All my friends were all going to Magaluf to have fun. I wasn't keen to go there to be honest. I said to my parents 'Instead of doing this, is it alright if I go over here?' They were fine because they saw it as I'm doing something other pi**ing up every weekend.
Jager paid to train with Canterbury for six weeks in 2013, and managed to gain a place in the academy after returning the following year. He made his NPC debut for Canterbury against Auckland last week, which was the end of quite a dream from his time back in Ireland:
Everyone growing up wanted to play for Leinster or Connacht, I always remember when I was younger I'd always get up about half five, six in the morning just to watch Canterbury play. you'd think 'Imagine how cool it would be to play for that team?'. I never actually thought it would actually happen because of the amount of players here and the player base that New Zealand has.
Now, he works alongside the All Black front row on his scrummaging technique:
I had God knows how many one-on-ones with [Canterbury assistant coach] Jase [Ryan]. I went to watch the Crusaders train, I'd listen, watch clips.
It's not the normal route for an Irish prop, but perhaps it'll be one that benefits Irish Rugby in the long run. David Nucifora and the IRFU will do will to keep an eye on Jager's development in New Zealand.
See Also: Another Talented Ireland U20 World Cup Finalist Doesn't Get A Contract, Highlighting The Difficulty Of Making It To The Pros
Picture credit: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE