Saturday 15 December 2018

'He is not good enough and he can't manage the game' - Neil Francis ranks Munster's three out-halves

17 October 2017; JJ Hanrahan of Munster during Munster Rugby Squad Training at the University of Limerick in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
17 October 2017; JJ Hanrahan of Munster during Munster Rugby Squad Training at the University of Limerick in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

With Tyler Bleyendaal looking likely to miss Munster's Champions Cup clash with Racing 92 tomorrow evening, Rassie Erasmus will have to decide whether to start Ian Keatley or JJ Hanrahan at number ten.

All three of Munster's out-halves played against Leinster two weeks ago, but Keatley got the nod to cover the Kiwi against Castres last weekend while Hanrahan was sent down to play with the A team.

The Kerry playmaker is back with Munster this season after two years in Northampton, but Irish Independent and Sunday Independent columnist Neil Francis doesn't think that Hanrahan has shown enough improvement during his time away to get a place in the Munster squad.

Speaking on The Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast with Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery, Francis said that he would start Bleyendaal if fit, and would have Keatley on the bench over Hanrahan.

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"Bottom line here is the reason he left is because he wasn't good enough to get into the Munster team, and he left," Francis said.

"He is back, and he is still not good enough. He didn't really set the world alight when he was with Northampton and I don't think he is going to set the world alight here either. He is a dinky player, he has got good hands but can he control a game for you? Something he couldn't do two years ago, and something now that I would reckon that he can't.

"Ian Keatley gets bad press and he can play bad games, I don't know whether it is a confidence thing, but in training the Munster management look at their options and every time Keatley comes out ahead. I think the way it is now is Bleyendaal, Keatley and Hanarahan. Hanrahan, I think, will be spending a lot of time on the A team because I think he is not good enough and he can't manage the game."

Fitzgerald added that he thinks that Hanrahan has suffered from being in situations where there have been a lot of out-halves of a similar level.

"It seems to me that he has been in a lot of situations where there hasn't been an out-and-out winner for that ten jersey and that is a really difficult role to play," Fitzgerald said.

"Nine and ten especially are positions where you need to play all the time, you need like ten games and I just don't seem him ever getting that. He is probably the guy where he has got opportunities and hasn't taken them and has been in 50/50 races off the back of it."

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