Written by Stuart McLennan
Until recently young international prop forward Ronan Michael was enjoying the “luck of the Irish” to complement the hard work during his short rugby league career. The run of luck came to a shuddering halt around six weeks ago in Australia’s capital city.
Speaking to Chasing Kangaroos podcast host Michael Carbone, Ronan recounted his whirlwind few years in the sport, after switching from rugby union, culminating with a dream opportunity at the Canberra Raiders which was never fulfilled due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
After completing the hard slog of a pre-season in the blazing Australian heat and a first-round bye for the Raiders Jersey Flegg side, Michael was named on the bench for the Round 2 game against the Canterbury Bulldogs in what was going to be his debut match in Australia. It’s history that the Flegg competition was cancelled prior to Round 2 and the affable Irish forward is back home in Balbriggan doing his best in lockdown.
“With the under 20s season being cancelled I don’t think I will be going back to Australia this year, unfortunately,” Ronan told Carbone.
“I would love to go back (in 2021) if something could be arranged but as far as I know after the COVID-19 thing is over I will go back to Huddersfield and hopefully I will get to play Super League.”
“I still got the opportunity to see what the next level is all about and where I need to be. I have no regrets from when I was over there (in Australia).”
Prior to arriving at the Canberra Raiders, Michael made rapid progress in rugby league after his rugby union career was temporarily suspended over a club transfer issue.
Looking for another sport to fill the gap, he found rugby league via the Longhorns club and was whisked into Ireland Under 17s squad before he had played an official club game.
From there the success continued and he was selected in the Ireland under 19s squad that played at the European Championship in Serbia.
An invitation to meet with the Huddersfield Giants and tour the club led to him being signed to the Giants Academy and subsequently being contracted to the Huddersfield Super League squad.
At 18 years of age, Michael was called into the Ireland senior side despite having minimal rugby league experience.
“I remember my first carry against Scotland and I thought oh shit… this is serious!” the 19-year-old front-rower recalled.
“I want to be in the 2021 World Cup with Ireland. I was part of the qualification process. It’s my short term goal. I want to be there in 2021.”
Despite what appears to be a rosy future with Huddersfield and Ireland, it’s clear that Michael has unfinished business in Australia. It’s fair to say another offer of a stint with the Green Machine would be looked upon very favourably.
“I’ve got a taste for the NRL and the lifestyle over there now. I’m looking forward to my time with Huddersfield and hopefully have a crack at Super League but at the end of the day, I would like to end up at the NRL, being with the best players and testing myself.