Disappointment parked, JJ Hanrahan is keen to kick on

Disappointment parked, JJ Hanrahan is keen to kick on

It is with some relief that JJ Hanrahan chooses not to bring his impressive footwork into his dealings with the media.

When the subject of that missed drop goal against Racing 92 a fortnight ago is raised, as the fly-half knew it would, the option to side-step was rejected in favour of some straight-shooting and the Kerryman came across all the better for it.

His reaction to the kick that could have delivered a late victory over the Parisians at Thomond Park but left his side with a home draw should also stand him and his team in good stead, because with his rivals for the number 10 jersey sidelined by injury, it will be Hanrahan moving his team around this Saturday evening when Munster resume their Heineken Champions Cup pool campaign against defending champions Saracens.

This season he has the good form and, at 27 the experience to understand the need, to move on to the next challenge.

“Obviously I was massively disappointed. You can’t tiptoe around it,” Hanrahan said yesterday.

“Of course you are disappointed if you get that opportunity as a number 10. That’s what you pride yourself on. As a child growing up you always want those winning opportunities. But the thing about rugby and the thing about life in general is if one opportunity is going to hamper you for the rest of your life then you are going to fail pretty quickly.

You have got to be able to get back on the horse. I came back in Monday morning and went on to Edinburgh (last weekend’s PRO14 opponents). It is a disappointing thing. You get back to training, go through your processes and the next time an opportunity comes you don’t shy away from it.

Hanrahan also has the perspective to look back on an excellent overall performance as he took on the playmaking responsibilities, with both Joey Carbery and Tyler Bleyendaal sidelined with injury.

“I suppose until 78 minutes, I was really happy. It was a good night. I think individuals don’t matter, in terms of the collective outcome is that we want to get the win. We were disappointed with that Racing game that we didn’t come away with the win, but I suppose 60 minutes in (and trailing 21-14) we would have taken...we almost would have taken a draw.

“Then all of a sudden we put ourselves in with an opportunity to win the game... look we didn’t take it. We have got to focus on the here and now and that starts this weekend. That’s all that matters.”

Hanrahan is enjoying life at Munster and relishing the opportunity to work with new senior coach Stephen Larkham, the former Australia fly-half.

“It is probably the first coach that has played at 10 that I’ve worked alongside. He knows what you’re probably feeling at each time, what’s going through your head each time.

“He encourages other players to take over certain aspects and gives 10s a bit more freedom. So that’s good for me and enjoyable from that aspect. Some of the knowledge that he has brought in in terms of little details, in terms of our play, and just in general structure it has been very good.”

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Hanrahan makes light of his strong performances this season, given his initial search for form when returning in the summer of 2017 from an injury-hit two-year spell in Northampton.

“At the moment I’m probably the only one left! That’s one aspect to it.

“I don’t know, there are so many aspects to it. It is not just a quick fix. With anything you have to...there are building blocks all through last season into this season, things I’ve put in place from mental strategies and also execution of training on the field and stuff like that. “Slowly but surely it has all started to fall into place.

“It’s horrible when lads get injuries and we don’t need that or want that in a squad but yeah, the responsibility comes on and you have to thrive on that responsibility.”

Hanrahan has the experience to treat it that way now, of which he said: “It helps an awful lot. I suppose if you look at it, I went through one year a complete wreck (through) injuries. I was calendar fit for 10 games, I had three surgeries in one year and when you’re away from home in Northampton you learn a bit about yourself.

“All through my career, I had it plain sailing in terms of when I was younger I was fit and available for games and then you just develop a bit of mental strength and a bit of bottle when you are going through testing times. The main thing is that you have to keep rolling with the punches and I’ve also had people who have helped me keep going.”

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