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12th Feb 2024

Brian O’Driscoll hails “genuine spark” Calvin Nash as Mack Hansen cheers him on

Patrick McCarry

Mack Hansen

Doing that No.14 jersey proud.

With Mack Hansen in attendance at Aviva Stadium – wearing a jersey that gave a nod to Johnny Sexton – Munster winger Calvin Nash performed admirably in his latest stint at No.14.

Nash impressed the Ireland coaches in their World Cup preparations, last summer, but missed out on the final squad. He would have been gutted to miss the tournament but took that experience with the senior squad as a positive and showed great form, this season, for Munster.

Injuries to Hansen and Jimmy O’Brien opened a door into the Ireland back three, and Nash has responded with two tries in his first two Six Nations games. Against Italy, his first home start in this competition, Nash had a quiet enough day at the office, only to stay patient, stay wide and get rewarded with a late try in the right-hand corner.

Following Ireland’s 36-0 win over Italy, Brian O’Driscoll talked up the Cork native on ITV. The former Ireland captain said:

“I really am excited by him. Mack Hansen has been a huge loss for Ireland, no doubt. Mack has really put himself in a position as a guaranteed starter but, for me, there is a genuine spark when Nash runs with the ball. He runs with such intent.

“To be honest, he would have been frustrated that he didn’t get more ball or more access – maybe he has to go looking for it a bit more – but he got his try, right at the death.”

Calvin Nash and Mack Hansen. (Credit: Sportsfile & @newrygal1)

Mack Hansen gets Johnny Sexton’s jersey number wrong

Having insisted, after last year’s Grand Slam, that he would get an Andy Farrell tattoo if Ireland achieved that very feat, Mack Hansen went ahead with the deed. It may not have happened until Johnny Sexton reminded him of the vow.

On Sunday, Hansen got his own back with a jersey nod to his retired teammate. Not exactly the ’10’ jersey that Sexton made so famous.

The Connacht winger was sitting a row ahead of Ireland teammates Ross Byrne and Jimmy O’Brien, who are rehabbing from injuries.

Judging by that snap, the Leinster duo were not aware they would soon be broadcast to the tens of thousands of Hansen’s followers.

Mack Hansen

Mack Hansen had surgery on his injured shoulder in January and will be hoping to return before the season is out.

The summer tour to South Africa will be high on his agenda, especially with Calvin Nash slotting into that Ireland back three nicely.

HOUSE OF RUGBY, WITH JAMES DOWNEY & LINDSAY PEAT

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