FORMER Munster player Trevor Hogan believes the challenge facing Ian Keatley is to repeat the same high level of performance displayed against Ulster in Saturday’s make-or-break Champions Cup clash with Stade Francais in Paris.
A rejuvenated Keatley, who had been left out of Munster’s squad for the Christmas defeat to Leinster, bounced back in style when producing a Man of the Match display in Saturday’s crucial Pro12 win over Ulster in Belfast.
The win ended a disappointing five-game losing run for Munster in all competitions. Keatley will again be a key man for Munster this Saturday when Anthony Foley’s men face French champions Stade Francais at Stade Jean Bouin, 4.45pm Irish time.
Trevor Hogan said: “The challenge now (for Ian Keatley) is to produce that next weekend against Stade Francais. It is the consistency element. Out-halves in general have to produce that consistency every week. Saturday was a huge positive for everyone in Munster.
”Ultimately it was Keatley who produced the goods for the win over Ulster, with that great drop goal and the two solid penalties. They weren’t straight forward.
“He also produced some excellent territory kicking which was better than Paddy Jackson. The problem both lads seem to have is consistency. That can get inside your head.
“Keatley was looking aggressive and comfortable. That week out paid off, wherever he went or whatever he did.”
Hogan said Tommy O’Donnell’s recent return to full fitness is a major boost to Munster and indeed to Keatley.
“Tommy O’Donnell coming back was a huge addition. They probably have been missing a genuine number seven there. That brings a really good balance to that back-row.
“O’Donnell, with his carries, looked to get some real good gainline there. What he gives is that energy in defence and helps Keatley on his inside off set-piece.”
Meanwhile, the 11 Munster players who were involved at the Ireland training camp, including recently Irish-qualified CJ Stander returned to the Munster squad yesterday.