Keatley reflects on career choices

15th Apr 2014, 07:26

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Winding road: Ian Keatley

Winding road: Ian Keatley

Ian Keatley is only 27, but playing for his third Irish province is set for the biggest game of his career when Munster face Toulon.

Ian Keatley is only 27, but playing for his third Irish province is set for the biggest game of his career when Munster face Toulon.

Having left the Leinster academy for experience at Connacht, Keatley is now the main man for Munster at fly-half following Ronan O'Gara's retirement.

Looking back on his decisions firstly to leave Leinster and then to move to Limerick, Keatley revealed the motivations behind each move.

"I was working with Eric Elwood and Dan McFarland in the Irish U20s and they asked me whether I'd like to join Connacht on a full contract as against Leinster offering me another year with the academy," Keatley told the Irish Examiner.

" I wanted to have a long rugby career and I thought that going to Connacht would get me the game time I needed at that level, even though I knew myself we wouldn't be winning week in and week out.

"Okay, I wasn't playing with the super star players like Felipe or Brian O'Driscoll, but what you did have was real tough lads prepared to fight for each other.

"They still have that. What people don't realise is Connacht train just as hard as any other team. They're very hard workers and are an up-and-coming team and when I was there I felt I was part of that movement to try to make Connacht a special team and a special place."

Now looking to make more history in Europe with Munster, Keatley believes there is a similar ethic with his current side to the one he was exposed to with Connacht.

"We have put ourselves in a good position to get some silverware. We're in one semi-final, we can't predict what might happen in the next couple of weeks but we have put ourselves in a great position," added Keatley.

"We're not superstars, we work very hard for each other and acknowledge each other for that work ethic and the physicality we put into each game and I think that's going to be the making and breaking of us this year."