Ronan O'Gara has given the ultimate backing to JJ Hanrahan 2 years ago

Ronan O'Gara has given the ultimate backing to JJ Hanrahan

A good run of form over the next four weeks and anything is possible.

There was a wave of good will and good vibes around Thomond Park, last Saturday, as the prodigal JJ Hanrahan marked his full return to Munster colours with two tries in a handy win over Cardiff.

Hanrahan spent two seasons at Franklin's Gardens with Northampton Saints but he never did achieve his stated ambition when he left his home province - tying down the No.10 jersey.

There were moments of magic and decent outings at 10 and 12 but even when the Kerry native was in good form, few paid steady notice in Ireland.

Hanrahan is suddenly re-discovering what a good game or two can do for your stock when you're operating within these shores. The 25-year-old, who has a few Emerging Ireland caps to his name but has yet to play at Test level, has found himself tipped for an Ireland role by Ronan O'Gara, no less.

The Munster and Ireland legend spoke about Hanrahan's versatility and November international chances on The Hard Yards [from 15:30 below].

Hanrahan may find himself covering midfield for Munster, for the next while, after Jaco Taute joined Dan Goggins on the badly injured list. However, it is that Madiganesque versatility that may yet stand to him when Joe Schmidt is naming his Ireland squad at the beginning of November.

However, O'Gara commented:

"I think JJ is a guy that has the capacity to excel at international level. That's probably a big statement but I think his game would stand up at Test level, and could excel.

"What he doesn't need to be doing - because he's a great sub too, and can cover 10, 12, 15 - is if he becomes a utility bench man, it's going to really hinder his chances to try to challenge for the number two spot [behind Johnny Sexton] in the Irish team."

Former Leinster and Ireland flanker Kevin McLaughlin made the valid point that a similar Hanrahan performance in a Saints jersey may not have been picked up by many Irish fans and media. "There just wasn't the same hullabaloo about it."

O'Gara did temper his praise by brandishing the Cardiff defence as 'quite appalling' but pointed out that Hanrahan is better suited to play the type of structured, tactical game that Schmidt likes, as opposed to the instinctive Ian Madigan.

Having previously tipped Ronan O'Mahony and Chris Farrell to make Ireland breakthroughs, and cautioned us not to write off Ian Keatley's chances, O'Gara joked that his Ireland XV for November is starting to take on a theme - 'They're all Munster men, but Joey Carbery is doing well!'