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'He has been a real bonus for the coaches' - Keenan impresses at 15 for Ireland

The Leinster man’s performance was discussed on today’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra.

Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

JORDAN LARMOUR HAD the first shot at Ireland’s number 15 shirt in the wake of Rob Kearney’s retirement before his shoulder injury opened the door for Jacob Stockdale to move in from the left wing.

But now Hugo Keenan is putting his hand up for Ireland at fullback, with the 24-year-old delivering another excellent display against Wales yesterday, as discussed by Eoin Toolan and Murray Kinsella on today’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra – an analysis podcast available to members of The42 every Monday. 

Keenan won his first two Ireland caps on the wing last year, scoring two tries on debut against Italy, before playing at fullback twice with Stockdale absent and then returning to the wing for the conclusion of the Autumn Nations Cup campaign.

Stockdale is currently out injured but coming into this Six Nations there was no doubt about the form fullback in Irish rugby. Keenan has been excellent for Leinster in recent months and continued in that vein at 15 for Andy Farrell’s side against the Welsh. 

Eoin has been impressed by Keenan’s ever-growing comfort in taking on playmaking responsibility for Ireland. 

“Between Keenan, Ringrose, and Henshaw, they were offering up as either first receiver or mainly as second receiver out the back of those blocker shapes and Keenan just looks really comfortable on the ball, looks like he has time,” said Eoin.

“He has a good sense of space and how to exploit it.

“On the other side of the ball, his defensive skills are really good. I thought he jammed really decisively on Rees-Zammit in the first half off a North offload where it looked like Wales were going to score.

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“He just jammed perfectly and forced Rees-Zammit to throw the ball into touch.

“He gives you that… I don’t want to diminish his ability, but he gives you security at 15 in terms of having a low risk profile but also his ability on both sides of the ball.

“He was definitely one of Ireland’s standout backs at the weekend and he has been a real bonus for the coaches because he probably wouldn’t have been on their radar this time last year.”

Today’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra saw the lads discussing Peter O’Mahony’s red card, Ireland’s positive response to it, then their second-half shortcomings as they missed out on the chance for a famous win.

Eoin and Murray also spoke about France’s big win over Italy ahead of their visit to Dublin and Scotland’s stirring victory against England. 

As always, questions from members via email and the WhatsApp group drove the conversation.

You can sign up as a member of The42 here in order to listen to the extra rugby podcasts and a wide range of other shows on sportswriting, football, GAA, and coaching, as well as getting weekly newsletters and access to our member-only Whatsapp groups.

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