Six Nations: Mike Catt predicts 'huge things' for debutant Hugo Keenan

Mike Catt
Former England international Mike Catt is Ireland's attack coach
Guinness Six Nations: Ireland v Italy
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 24 October Kick-off: 15:30 BBST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and BBC Radio Ulster; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app; watch highlights online.

Mike Catt has tipped Hugo Keenan for a "huge future" ahead of the Leinster wing's Ireland debut against Italy in the Six Nations.

Ireland attack coach Catt hailed Keenan's "selfless approach" that he believes can transfer seamlessly to the Test arena.

"He's unbelievably quick, unbelievably fit, and he's settled in very, very well," said Catt.

"So I see huge things for him, he's got a huge future."

Former Ireland Sevens player Keenan is one of four players who could make their international bows in Dublin on Saturday.

Flanker Will Connors will make his maiden start while new faces Ed Byrne and Jamison Gibson-Park have been named on the bench by Andy Farrell.

"All of the new guys have settled in very well, into an environment where they can come in and be themselves," said Catt.

Jamison Gibson-Park
Leinster scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park is set to make his Ireland debut off the bench

Catt feels Leinster flanker Connors, who has forced his way into Ireland's ultra-competitive back-row for his Test debut, has underrated traits on top of his trademark chop-tackle.

"I think Will is very underrated in terms of his handling ability," added former England international.

"He's exceptionally quick into breakdowns, not just defensively, attacking-wise too. And he's got a real understanding of the game.

"We are very excited about Jamison Gibson-Park as well; the way we want to play at nine, he's exceptionally quick to every breakdown, and he gets the ball away and gets good width on the pass as well.

"Will and Ed have obviously played very well for Leinster. So for us these young guys coming in, these first cappers, they are the ones that are going to drive this team as well."

'We're in a privileged position'

Calling on the Ireland team to lift a nation back in lockdown, Catt added: "Listen, we can sit here and moan but we're in a very privileged position to be able to get out here and work and ply our trade.

"So the bubble, it is what it is, it's what we have to do to get ourselves ready to perform. And hopefully we can try to give a bit of confidence to the rest of the country, and try to drive our message and give something for people to smile about.

"It's tough across the board but, believe me, we're not moaning in camp.

"It's been exceptionally well done in terms of discipline. The players have been very disciplined in what they need to do to make sure that nothing goes wrong, so hopefully we can put on a performance for the nation tomorrow."

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