Sunday 24 September 2017

Penney feels O'Gara still right fit for new style

David Kelly

David Kelly

Munster coach Rob Penney has claimed that 35-year-old Ronan O'Gara is more excited about playing rugby now than at any time over the last decade.

And he has rejected claims from some supporters that Ian Keatley should assume the starting out-half slot for Munster because O'Gara purportedly cannot adapt to Penney's expansive style.

Penney asserts that both men can be accommodated in his side as they begin a huge three weeks in their season, beginning with Saturday's derby against Leinster, followed by their opening pair of Heineken Cup pool games.

"Ronan has been a world-class player for a long time now and he has represented everybody at the highest level with a great deal of talent and dignity," said Penney.

"He's just been a wonderful, wonderful player over a long period of time. Ronan is as excited about playing the game now as what I envisage he was 10 years ago.

"And he is going through a growth phase himself, which is stimulating for him, on the back of Ian Keatley, who has done a tremendous job."

Penney rejects suggestions that the selection of O'Gara for this Saturday's clash would be a step backwards in terms of the expansive style he has deployed in the opening weeks of the season.

"We are excited about having two slightly different individuals both capable of wearing our team jersey with a great deal of pride and high performance," added Penney.

"Given time, they are both capable of playing a brand of rugby that Munster will be really proud of."

Irish Independent

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