Champions Cup: Hugo Keenan admits he did not expect to reach 50 Leinster caps

Hugo Keenan on the charge for Leinster. Credit: Alamy
Hugo Keenan on the charge for Leinster. Credit: Alamy

Full-back Hugo Keenan is set to run out for his 50th Leinster cap should he get selected for their Champions Cup clash against Gloucester this weekend.

The Leinsterman made his debut against Zebre in 2016 and has developed into a fine player for both club and country.

Proud

The Ireland star admits he did not expect to reach the milestone with the province and looks forward to his “proud accomplishment”.

“Delighted to get the chance to hopefully reach 50. I don’t think 7s to be honest really slowed me down. I was just a bit of a slow burner. I can’t blame that. I still remember when Peter Smyth [his former Blackrock College coach] told my Dad he thought I was going to get 50 caps for Leinster and I never believed him, to be honest,” Keenan said.

“It will be a special one. It’s not quite 100 or anything like that, which a lot of lads have achieved, but it’s still a proud accomplishment for me and my family. For everyone who has helped me get there. It would be a good game to get it in as well.”

This season, Keenan has been unlucky with injuries and was sidelined for Leinster’s first seven games in the United Rugby Championship.

The full-back returned from injury for Ireland against South Africa in the Autumn Nations Series.

“It was a tough task to get up to speed quickly, but I had a lot of training sessions. A bit of time in camp and a small bit here with Leinster to get ready. It’s about treating those games as matches to get yourself up to speed and get yourself up to the standard that test match rugby requires,” he said.

“South Africa in the Aviva was a tough place to start, but that was always my aim to get back for at least that. I was trying to get back for a game or too sooner, but it wasn’t to be.”

Focus is on the fifth star

Keenan admits that Leinster does not deeply concern themselves with how their opposition approaches the competition and is solely focused on winning their fifth Champions Cup.

“We don’t really worry about what other teams are doing. What sort of tactics they’re using,” Keenan said.

“Europe for us is the ultimate goal of getting that fifth star. We’re just going to be focusing on whatever team they put out. We’re going to try and beat them, try to get maximum points. Put ourselves on top of our pool and control what we can.”

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