Munster coach Stephen Larkham praised JJ Hanrahan this week for his understanding of the game. A patient, careful game-plan is always required when playing the 2019 Pro14 Champions.
Thankfully, Munster had just the man to implement such a strategy. Hanrahan and Murray provided a strong base for Munster’s powerful centers to attack through. Ultimately, this led to their three tries coming from Conway and Earls on the wings. The only blemish on an otherwise solid performance from the Kerry man was a missed conversion from the right touchline. This allowed Leinster to escape with a draw but Munster won’t be demoralized.
A Long Road
Rewind to 2018 and history is repeating itself for JJ Hanrahan. The signing of Joey Carbery undermines Hanrahan’s role at the club. Similarly, following the retirement of Ronan O’Gara in 2013, Hanrahan was a strong contender to be his successor. However, that mantle fell to Ian Keatley despite good form from Hanrahan. As a result, he left to join the Northampton Saints in 2015 for more game time.
Injuries prevented this however and he returned to Thomond Park in 2017. This marked a return to form. As a result, a new two-year deal in December 2018 followed. His patience finally looks set to pay off with an extended run in the team. Carbery’s ongoing ankle injury has ruled him out for an “indefinite period of time”. In addition to this, Tyler Bleyendaal’s forced retirement this May leaves Hanrahan as the unopposed out-half.
With a plethora of rugby to be played in the next twelve months, this is Hanrahan’s chance to come of age. At 28 he’s no prospect. However, his own setbacks are likely to ensure he won’t let such a chance go by.
📢 TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT | The Munster side has been named for Sunday's crunch #GuinnessPRO14 clash against Connacht in Dublin (3pm).@LongDogBeirne returns for his first appearance since last December as one of five changes.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) August 28, 2020