MUNSTER head coach Rob Penney is set to start Ian Keatley in Saturday’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Connacht, despite the fear of the out-half getting injured a week out from the mammoth Heineken Cup semi-final clash with Toulon.
Penney has confirmed that it will take a ‘miracle’ for the squad’s remaining experienced out-half JJ Hanrahan to be fit from his groin injury in time for Sunday week’s glamour Heineken Cup clash in Marseille.
Rob Penney said: “We’ve gotta play Ian (Keatley) yeah, there’s no problem there. It’s an important game for us this weekend.
“We’ve got a game to get over this weekend and it’s an important one as well.
“JJ (Hanrahan) has got a small groin tear and we are waiting for a specialist’s opinion but we’re not sure of time lines yet. He certainly won’t be available this week.”
Asked if Hanrahan would be fit for the Toulon semi-final, Penney replied: “Jeez, it would be a miracle, but you never know.”
Penney could have opted to start promising 22-year-old Jonny Holland at out-half, who has been featuring for the province’s A side, in the PRO12 clash Connacht at the Sportsground on Saturday, 6.15pm.
Penney pointed out that the likes of Johne Murphy and Conor Murray could also be pressed into action at out-half if the need arises over the coming weeks.
Coach Penney is hopeful BJ Botha will be fit for selection to face Connacht on Easter Saturday as he has been struggling with a bug this week. Penney said it is vital the players learn from the hugely disappointing home defeat to Glasgow last weekend and move on.
Penney said: “The outcome was disappointing and parts of the game were really disappointing but parts were on the verge of being really good. We can’t dwell on it (Glasgow defeat). We move on and take our learnings out of the game. There was a few and it was a great time to get those learnings, it is just unfortunate we have to go through this to get them.
“There is a buzz around, a group that is excited to get into it this week and we know what we need to do over the next five or six weeks if we’re in it that long and We’ve got a window of opportunity and we are still masters of our own destiny.”