Friday 23 February 2018

Munster's season hinges on Keatley or Hanrahan stepping up

Munster's Ian Keatley
Munster's Ian Keatley

There is no doubt the decision by Ronan O'Gara to retire at the end of last season has left Munster with a huge void to fill.

Rog was one of a kind, a player who set his own standards and who delivered every single time.

He was going to go at some stage but that didn't make it any easier finding someone to fill his boots.

The pressure is now on Ian Keatley and JJ Hanrahan to step forward and fill that gap. Both are excellent players but those are huge boots they are trying to fill.

You look at all the teams who have won the Heineken Cup and the out-half has been a key figure, usually an established international as well.

Munster go into each season with the intention of winning the Heineken Cup.

Look at how far they went last season when little was expected but, then again, look at the pivotal role Rog played in that march and look at the display he produced against Clermont in the semi-final.

Keats is the player in situ and JJ, who has huge promise, will be battling away as well. Maybe the competition for the shirt will bring the best out of them.

The out-half is the key role, he's the quarterback. He dictates play and it doesn't matter how strong your pack is or what pace you have out wide, if your No 10 is not delivering a big performance every time, you ain't going to go anywhere.

Big pressure on the two boys then and, being blunt, one or both of them has to deliver if Munster are to bid for silverware this season.

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