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10 international rugby stars who took unorthodox routes to the top

The route to international stardom sometimes seem straightforward. Create a buzz in a top academy, shine for the first-team and get a call-up to the national side after making a splash on the Under 20 scene. 

But more often than not the distance from A to B takes a rugby player through many trials and tribulations.

For these 10 players, the journey to Test Rugby has been anything but routine.


1 Joe Launchbury

LAUNCHbury

Joe Launchbury is a versatile forward who looks set to be an international mainstay for years to come following a testing start to his rugby career.  Harlequins decided not to offer Launchbury a professional contract at 18, the lock left Quins and joined the then National League 2 South side Worthing for the 2009–10 season.

His performances at the South coast club under Will Green, the then head coach and former London Wasps player, saw him recommend Launchbury to his former club. He played in several A-League matches for Wasps and, after a spell training with the Eastern Province Kings in South Africa, signed a full time contract in 2010.

There was still work to do for the young forward though as he also joined National League 1 side Rosslyn Park on loan to gain senior experience. Through his hard work Launchbury has since become a stalwart in the Wasps side and following his incredible journey has now won 45 caps for England

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