Monday 20 November 2017

Keith Wood has noticed a big change in JJ Hanrahan and has a theory about Tyler Bleyendaal's mixed form

JJ Hanrahan of Munster after the Guinness PRO14 Round 5 match between Munster and Cardiff Blues at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
JJ Hanrahan of Munster after the Guinness PRO14 Round 5 match between Munster and Cardiff Blues at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Former Munster and Ireland legend Keith Wood believes JJ Hanrahan has benefited from trimming up over the summer.

Hanrahan marked his return to Munster from the Northampton Saints with a two-try haul in last weekend's victory over the Cardiff Blues after coming off the bench.

Speaking on Off The Ball on Newstalk, Wood said he felt Hanrahan had a leaner physique and this would benefit the dynamic back.

"Munster scored some great tries and JJ Hanrahan, for me, looks like he has shed a bit of weight," he said.

"He looked incredibly well balanced. There were two things that really stuck out for me.

"He seemed to be at a lot of the breakdowns after he came on, he ran really good support lines and I think Rory Scannell is the most underrated player we have at the moment. His little offload for JJ's first try was deft and beautiful and we'd be extolling the virtues if it was an All Black.

"There was a lot of good things on show."

Munster now have the option of playing Hanrahan, Ian Keatley or Tyler Bleyendaal at number 10.

Keatley bagged the man of the match award against the Blues and Bleyendaal is now coming under pressure to maintain the starting spot he made his own last season.

Wood believes Bleyendaal has missed Conor Murray's presence so far this season.

"Keatley's performance the other day was fantastic and I was delighted to see it. He's a really good guy. He became a father for the first time that week. He was going around with a smile on his face. He played accordingly," he added.

"Bleyendaal hasn't hit his straps and for me, Conor Murray has a huge impact and influence on who plays at 10. Bleyendaal suffers outside Duncan Williams and doesn't play as well outside him and doesn't seem to play with that level of confidence.

"I wouldn't be writing him off just yet and I think he has skills and capabilities that would keep him number one but he just needs to be playing with Murray.

"He just doesn't get the ball where he wants it (outside Williams), that's what it looks like for me and his confidence seems to drop a little bit."

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