Saturday 18 November 2017

Ian Keatley: 'When we heard, all the players stayed together'

Munster player Ian Keatley at the gates of Thomond Park
Munster player Ian Keatley at the gates of Thomond Park

Alan O'Keeffe

Munster out-half Ian Keatley spoke of the shock and grief in the team room in Paris as the players tried to take in the news of Anthony Foley's death.

The 29-year-old said that as word broke of the popular coach's passing, his Munster charges remained together as they tried to come to terms with their loss.

"We knew something was wrong when Axel didn't show up for the line-outs. That doesn't happen. When we got the news, all the players stayed together in the team room," Keatley said.

Read more: 'They're the things people don't see': Ian Keatley remembers kind gesture from Anthony Foley that helped him get over a poor display

The team made the sombre journey home from Paris on Sunday evening with Brendan, Anthony's father, with them.

"It was tough on the players but his father was there too and my thoughts were always with his family. At the end of the day, rugby is the last thing on our minds," said Keatley.

"Most people just see the 80 minutes on the pitch. That's all they judge us on. We're with each other every day and we try our hardest. Anthony epitomised that by working tirelessly because he wanted Munster to win.

"I remember I had a poor performance last year and it epitomised Anthony that he rang me up after the game and invited me out to his house the next day. We called out to his house and he had a pizza oven out in his garden.

"His wife and kids were there and Keith Wood and his family were there and we were just having a pizza. He treated me normally even though I had a poor game. They are the things that people don't see. He had a great heart."

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