Ireland: Hugo Keenan ‘not fully quite there’ as Six Nations return looms

David Skippers
Hugo Keenan Ireland v France SN 2024 - Alamy.jpg

Ireland full-back Hugo Keenan.

Hugo Keenan has revealed that he is hopeful of being available for selection when Ireland travel to Twickenham to take on England in their Round Four Six Nations clash on March 9.

The 27-year-old was sidelined for Ireland’s 31-7 victory over Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin last weekend after sustaining a knee injury in his team’s Round Two encounter against Italy at the same venue on February 10.

One of Ireland’s stars in recent years

Keenan has been one of Ireland‘s star performers in recent years, having started in 38 of their last 43 Tests, and is currently in rehabilitation for his injury but is hopeful of making a return to action against the Red Rose.

“That’s the plan, hoping to get back for England. I was sad not to be out there at the weekend. Always tough watching from the stand, but rehab’s progressing well,” he said.

“I’ve been worked hard. I’ve been in rehabbing the last day or two as well while the rest of the squad’s been off, so it’s always the annoying side of it, you don’t really get your days off.

“I’m happy with how it’s coming along, and progressing well. No (contact training), not fully quite there but we haven’t been in this week.

“We’re linking back up together tomorrow (Wednesday), we are going to be based in Energia (Park), then we’ve got the open training session (at the Aviva Stadium) on Thursday. Not too far off getting fully involved, so looking forward to being back.”

With Keenan missing out on the clash with Wales, fellow Leinsterman Ciaran Frawley came into Ireland’s starting line-up at full-back and gave a good account of himself as Andy Farrell’s troops clinched their third successive bonus-point victory of the Six Nations.

Initially, Keenan played mostly on the wing during the early stages of his Test career, but he soon made the full-back position his own and is amongst the best number 15s in the international arena.

Hoping to be ready for England game

He was ever-present during Ireland’s Grand Slam-winning campaign and the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and is determined to just sit out the clash against Wales in this year’s Championship.

“I suppose the injury happened in the Italy game, and four weeks from that would be the England game,” said Keenan. “I was trying to get back for the Wales match. It was just a week or two too early.

“We sort of treated it – since we’ve known I’d be out – as a four-week injury. There was no point rushing me straight back into something I’m not ready for.

“So, I’m hoping to build up the load over the next 10 or so days leading up to it to get right for that one. You don’t enjoy the time on the sideline, but hopefully, it will be a case where I just miss one.

“It wouldn’t have been the worst timing because maybe sometimes a four-week injury in the middle of a Six Nations you miss three games rather than just one. Hopefully, I’m getting lucky with that.”

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