Hugo Keenan is desperate for competition from the “electric” Michael Lowry as he bids to reclaim the role of Ireland full-back for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations showdown with England.
eenan’s streak of 18 consecutive games for his country was broken in round 3 of the tournament when head coach Andy Farrell decided to award his Test debut to in-form Ulster player Lowry.
The international newcomer seized his chance, lighting up Dublin with an exceptionally dry two-goal performance in a 57-6 win over Italy.
Player Leinster Keenan is expected to take the number 15 shirt back at Twickenham but has welcomed increased competition.
He said: “Mikey played great, didn’t he? He’s electric and he’s got to show that and that’s been great for him.
“He was such a nice guy, a gentleman and he played great rugby for Ulster so it’s fair to him he deserved his shot and he took it. it.
“He’s had two tries and I assume you’ve seen the smiles on all the boys’ faces how much that means to the whole team.
We’re all a little bit champion; We’re all trying to put our hands up and get that jersey, so it’s definitely healthy and it’s nice to have.Hugo Keenan
“It’s great to have another player debut and that also adds depth to the team. If you look at any position, there’s always competition and that’s healthy.
“There are six or seven back to three (players) here and we are all a little bit champion; We’re all trying to put our hands up and get that jersey, so it’s definitely healthy and it’s nice to have. “
Ireland and England are playing catch-up with France chasing Grand Slams in the battle for the title.
A crowd of around 82,000 is expected for this weekend’s clash in London, with the losers set to be eliminated from title contention.
Keenan has never played in front of a full stadium in Twickenham, or experienced it as a spectator.
The 25-year-old admits Ireland – who have lost five of their seven away games under Farrell – must handle the hostile environment better than they did in their 30-24 loss to Les Bleus in Paris last month.
“These are the weeks you want to be in and it’s been a huge challenge in Twickenham with that crowd,” he said.
“I played there in an empty stadium (in the Fall Nations Cup) and then in the London Sevens, so I never really experienced 80,000 Six Nations games there.
“We talked about it for the week, the kind of atmosphere we were going to face.
“I’m sure there will be loads of Irish there. You can always see green there, guys even said 20-25,000.
“If they (England) are in front, it can make a lot of noise, they can come in quickly and that’s one of the things you have to be prepared for.
“It was a challenge for us against France and maybe something we didn’t do well enough, so it’s important for us to focus on that. But in the end it’s all about us this week. ”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/hugo-keenan-understands-the-benefits-of-competition-for-places-41424795.html Hugo Keenan understands the benefits of competing for positions