Thursday 21 February 2019

Keatley called to counter king Carter

Munster v Racing 92 Live SS Action, KO 5.30

Steady hand: Ian Keatley. Pic: Sportsfile
Steady hand: Ian Keatley. Pic: Sportsfile

Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus has gone for the steady hand of Ian Keatley over the mercurial talents of JJ Hanrahan.

Whatever anyone puts out there about Hanrahan, the Kerryman has never enjoyed the total trust any out-half has to have from his head coach to realise his potential.

He never had it in his first incarnation at Munster, nor at Northampton Saints for two seasons.

Maybe, just maybe, Rob Penney, Jim Mallinder and Erasmus all agree on his inability to apply control. They should know.

Either way, Munster might just turn to Hanrahan in their time of need because Racing are brimming with global names of the game, headlined by Dan Carter.

Once again, Erasmus has plumped for Stephen Archer over John Ryan at tight-head in what is a poor sign for Ryan.

The former will benefit from the extra muscle of Jean Kleyn at scrum time and the backrow of Peter O'Mahony, Tommy O'Donnell and CJ Stander will go through a mountain of work.

Man-for-man, it is next to impossible to make a sound argument for Munster. This is where the mystic and the mental surge that Thomond injects can lift the ordinary up to the extraordinary.

As long as Ronan O'Gara can tap into the Racing psyche, this could be a long, uncomfortable and unrewarding evening for Munster.

Munster: S Zebo; D Sweetnam, C Farrell, R Scannell, K Earls; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, R Marshall, S Archer, J Kleyn, B Holland, P O'Mahony (capt), T O'Donnell, CJ Stander.

Racing: P Lambie; J Rokocoko, H Chavancy, A Tuitavke, L Dupichot; D Carter, M Machenaud (capt); E Ben-Arous, C Chat, B Tameifuna, B Le Roux, L Nakarawa, W Lauret, Y Nyanga, A Claassen.

Verdict: Racing.

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