- AJ is the USA starting fly half
- MacGinty reflects on eventful life
AJ MacGinty is a man for all occasions: a highly-gifted footballer, golfer and even – once upon a time – a child actor.
Many of the great leading men in Hollywood dream of working alongside Angelina Jolie but the Sale Sharks fly-half is one of the few to have actually shared screen time with the star.
Prior to deciding between rugby and football as a teenager, the fly-half was cast in Alexander the Great, the 2004 film directed by Oliver Stone.
And Jolie wasn’t the only Hollywood A-lister that MacGinty acted, albeit very briefly, alongside during his time as fresh-faced 14-year-old movie star.
He also appeared alongside Val Kilmer and Colin Farrell during his time filming in Morocco.
I'll take you back pic.twitter.com/gGpU6neli8— Aj MacGinty (@Aj_MacGinty) September 21, 2016
“They were looking for ‘short brown hair, 4’0”, blue eyes’ and loads of us went and the first audition was taking ages. So I bailed, I didn’t want to do it,” he explained.
“But my Mum pushed me back in there and then I got called back for another one and I got lucky enough to be chosen.
“There were about five scenes shot in Morocco so I must have been in it for about two seconds.
“But actually Val Kilmer was in the film too, so I got to meet him and Colin Farrell too.
“Every time I saw Val he was at the bar having a few drinks, he wasn’t standing up too well and had some girl under his arm.
“I didn’t have too much interaction with him unfortunately. Plus I was so young, I didn’t know what was going on.”
The round ball or the oval one?
In his varied rugby career to date, the fly-half has spent time in America and Ireland prior to putting pen-to-paper on his next starring role with Aviva Premiership side Sale.
He learned the game in his native Ireland and studied a Masters degree in Sport Health Science whilst playing rugby in America for Life Rugby Eagles.
The fly-half was then selected for the USA team for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and impressed in all three of the USA’s group games, kicking 25 points in the process.
It earned him a move back to Ireland to join Guinness PRO12 team Connacht for whom he made 13 appearances.
His reliable boot saw him kick a combined 16 points in the PRO12 semi-final and final as Pat Lam’s boys completed a dream season and won the title for the first time in their history.
Since that famous day at BT Murrayfield, the youngster has moved to Manchester to fill the void left by Danny Cipriani, but admits his career could have been very different.
“Growing up at school I really enjoyed football, in fact at 16 I stopped playing rugby and was going to try football,” said the 26-year-old.
“I was playing centre midfield and was getting pushed around quite a lot so I turned my focus to rugby from 17 basically.
“I used to enjoy all sports, whatever the season was I’d get out and play."
A Hammer at heart
Despite his change of heart at 17, one that has clearly paid off, the talented sportsmen never lost his love of football despite struggling to find a team to support.
“Well I’ve never seen West Ham play but I started supporting them when I was 13,” he said.
“My Dad was a Manchester United fan so I’ve been to about five or six games. I had United jerseys bought for me and my brother is a Liverpool fan so he was buying me Liverpool jerseys but then I decided I wanted to support my own team.
“I used to play Football Manager and West Ham was one of my favourite teams so I went for them.”
It was not the smoothest start to his career at the AJ Bell Stadium due to injury during his first season, he’s desperate to be in the cut and thrust of regular Premiership action.
“It’s just one of those things when you pick up an injury and you’re new in a squad, that’s frustrating,” he said.
“You’re trying to make a mark and you have a little niggle, it’s just a bit of a setback. I came back to training to get it as best as I could, got it right and then I tweaked my hamstring again.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to says keep an eye on the hamstring, you can rush back too soon and it goes again.
“It did feel right when I got back running and then just a little niggle and it started hurting again. It’s my kicking leg as well.
“I’d have preferred a better start to my career at Sale but that’s just the way it is, you’ve got to be patient.
“I’m settling in well, I really love Manchester, the weather’s been really good so far, the only frustrating part has been the injury.”