Hugo Keenan on Freddie Steward's appreciated post-match gesture after Ireland's win 11 months ago

Hugo Keenan on Freddie Steward's appreciated post-match gesture after Ireland's win

"It was a special weekend."

Anyone that was keeping an eye on their phones, or in the vicinity of several break-out celebrations, will tell you that Hugo Keenan and the Ireland lads had a good old, four-day run of toasting their Grand Slam triumph.

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We caught up with Keenan, not long off his Player of the Championship nomination after another fine Six Nations, and, disappointedly, he was not wearing that cool, retro Kerry Dixon era Chelsea jersey. On a brighter note, he was professing to be in top form and showing no lingering effects from the head-blow that ended his latest outing, in the win over England, after only 39 minutes.

"Yeah, it was disappointing I couldn't get back out there on the pitch," he tells SportsJOE. "It was bit of a stressful last second half watching on the sidelines. I don't particularly enjoy, enjoy it. I prefer being out there.

"It was brilliant, though. The lads did the job and, yeah, I was able to enjoy the celebrations. I had a great few days. It was a special weekend."

Keenan did not return after the Head Injury Assessment he underwent after colliding with Freddie Steward of England. The fullback was red-card for an action an independent panel deemed "reckless" but lacking malice when down-grading his red card to a yellow.

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For Keenan, he was thankful for, and appreciative of, two of Freddie Steward's actions after the high-speed collision.

"Yeah," Keenan muses, "he was very apologetic. I caught him after the game on the pitch and, straight away, he just apologised.

"But it was one of those rugby incidents. It was very unfortunate for him. I didn't realise at the time, but he obviously checked, checked on me pretty straight away because it was a good whack. And, yes, it was good to get chatting to him after.

"He's a nice lad and it's probably a good thing he got off the citing as well. It was probably a fair call because it was an accidental collision, at the end of the day. I felt for him, as another full back."

Hugo Keenan Hugo Keenan of Ireland gets past the tackle Freddie Steward, at Twickenham Stadium in 2022. (Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile)
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Hugo Keenan on Player of the Championship nomination

Along with three French star and Ireland teammates Caelan Doris and Mack Hansen, Hugo Keenan is nominated for Six Nations Player of the Championship [with the winner revealed on Friday].

Asking if his chat, as part of an Energia campaign, is part of his campaign push to win the award, Keenan remarks, "Oh no, no!

"I heard from the lads, earlier, that voting is closed. But no, it will hopefully go to either or and now they, they've both been brilliant. It could have been a number of others on that Irish team. I think there's a few brilliant performers to the campaign as well. So the nice if someone in green got it now.

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"The main thing is we, we got the Grand Slam. That was... that's the only one I care about."

*Hugo Keenan was speaking on behalf of Energia, launching their ‘Think of the Possibilities’ campaign which shines a light on the volunteers doing invaluable, unseen work at Irish Rugby’s grassroots.

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