Johne Murphy: Ian Keatley can fill void left by injured Jonathan Sexton

Last Updated: 14/02/13 3:29pm

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Ian Keatley tackles Olly Barkley during Munster's bonus-point win over Racing Metro last month

Ian Keatley tackles Olly Barkley during Munster's bonus-point win over Racing Metro last month

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Johne Murphy has called for Munster teammate Ian Keatley to be included by Ireland for their Six Nations trip to Scotland.

Jonathan Sexton has been ruled out of the Murrayfield clash with a hamstring injury, with Ronan O'Gara set to start at fly-half.

Keatley has been providing stiff competition for O'Gara at Munster, and Murphy believes he can also challenge the veteran at international level.

"I think Keats is up there, he is a very talented fella," said Murphy. "He has already played for Ireland a couple of times, he is very experienced.

"I suppose he showed in the Racing Metro game recently and especially at the weekend how he can run games like that. Rog (O'Gara) is Rog, you can't say enough about him.

"Rog is probably going to play with us this weekend to get some game time but if Jonny is out, then there is a certainly a race for a spot.

"There are three young lads going for a spot there and I'd have no problem chucking Keats in there."

Paddy Jackson and Ian Madigan are also in contention for a spot among the Irish replacements, but Keatley did his chances no harm by kicking 20 points in Munster's win over Edinburgh last weekend.

"We played quite pragmatically last week, kicked to the corners and Keats really drove the game. It was probably one of his best games ever in that regard," said Murphy.

"He made right decisions, when to kick and when to run, and the times we ran out of our red zone was when it was on and we made good ground.

We might have kicked a phase or two later because that was the right option at the time, so Keats was definitely last week making those decisions and it allowed us to start playing rugby in the right areas."

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