Joey Carbery and Hugo Keenan on the fastest players in Ireland's squad 9 months ago

Joey Carbery and Hugo Keenan on the fastest players in Ireland's squad

"He's a bit of a lightning bolt, in fairness to him."

Give Hugo Keenan a Bronco to compete in and he would back himself against most comers. Credit to the Leinster and Ireland fullback, his 4:11 personal best over those ever-lengthening shuttle-run distances would take some beating.

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Over shorter bursts, though, Keenan is happy to concede the title of 'fastest player' in the Ireland squad to Ulster's Rob Baloucoune. There is not much speed-testing during the rigorous and game-focused Six Nations camps, but Baloucoune's pace is clear to see.

"To be honest, you sort of just prove your speed in training and in games. I don't think the S&Cs and physios would be too happy - injuries-wise - if we were sprinting around, racing each other.

"I wouldn't even chance the fact that I'd be any way close to Rob. He's a bit of a lightning bolt, in fairness to him."

During a separate chat with Munster and Ireland outhalf Joey Carbery, who was helping to promote the Rugby Players Ireland and Zurich 'Tackle Your Feelings' initiative, he backed up Keenan's comments on the Ulster winger.

"I'd say it would have to be Rob Baloucoune, to be honest. When we were in Portugal on a dry, quick surface he was blistering. He's a flyer, and when he gets his hands on the ball he's hard to stop.

"We're pretty lucky to have the guys we have. Even Andrew Conway, in his old age, has a tonne of pace about him!"

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We are sure Andrew Conway, all 30 years of him, will get Carbery back for that back-handed compliment.

fastest players Rob Baloucoune and Hugo Keenan are two of the fastest players in Ireland's backs division.

Fastest players - forwards in the Ireland squad

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When it comes to the forwards, Hugo Keenan says one Munster man is pushing several of the Leinster forwards hard.

 "I don't know many of the scores of the other provinces - we never actually do the Broncos together, in the Irish camp. I know the likes of Rhys Ruddock would be very up there.

"Josh van der Flier would be the best and the standard there at Leinster, for forwards. Speed-wise, Peter O'Mahony is slyly quick. There's obviously Ryan Baird as well. They're the ones that spring to mind. Dan Sheehan can actually clock up a good speed, in fairness to him, for a big man."

As Ben Smith would tell you - with memories of that back-tracking burst that denied him a try against Ireland in 2018 - Peter O'Mahony has some gas in the tank when he needs it.

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It will be interesting to see if the likes of Dan Sheehan, Ryan Baird and Rob Baloucoune get their chance to impress, from the first whistle, in the remaining Six Nations games. Add in Ulster flanker Nick Timoney, a former Ireland Sevens star like Keenan, and you have a fizzing mix.

Having the likes of them on the pitch with O'Mahony, van der Flier and Keenan would certainly keep the opposition on their toes.

Hugo Keenan and Stacey Flood pictured at Energia Park, Donnybrook with Energia Sponsorship Manager Lorna Danaher.
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*This season Energia is helping fans play their part and learn about how to be more sustainable and environmentally conscious through its Ireland’s Greenest Fan campaign.