Keith Wood sees the makings of an outstanding rugby player in Tipp hurler Michael Breen

Ex-Ireland captain was speaking about how hurling helped his own career

BY Raf Diallo 21:02 Wednesday 28 September 2016, 21:02 28 Sep 2016

Tipperary’s Michael Breen runs past the Liam McCarthy cup ©INPHO/James Crombie

Keith Wood feels playing hurling as a youth had a huge benefit to his own rugby career.

The former Ireland captain was on Off The Ball as the subject of Gordon D'Arcy's Irish Times article about the ability to manipulate space on a rugby field.

In the piece, the former Ireland centre writes: "I hurled from the age of six to 12. Same time [Charles] Piutau was learning to ghost past Scottish fullbacks. Give me 20 minutes against a wall and I’ll rediscover my touch. But hurling never really helped my rugby. Took many, many hours away from it, in fact".

Keith, however, felt hurling was of benefit to his own career as it gave him a few added dimensions.

"Well, I would have said hurling helped me beyond all belief for hand eye co-ordination and I'll always say if you're trying to catch a sliothar going at 80-90 miles an hour means you don't quite have to have your eyes on the ball all the time for rugby. It's just easier to catch," he said.

"I felt the use of space that hurling gives you, I just found was phenomenal and I found the agility from it because I used to be agile when I was small and young as a hurler. But I had some level of agility as a 16-17 and a half stone hooker as well and that came from other sports. So I think there's pluses and minuses to that."

He also feels Tipperary hurler Michael Breen might well have made a good rugby player after seeing him at close quarters at the opening of Clarisford Park, Killaloe last Friday.

"Michael Breen who played only a few weeks ago for Tipp at midfield, we played a game of touch rugby and a game of soccer with Pat Shortt refereeing it and it was a fantastic farce and good fun. But Michael Breen caught a ball and ran across the field at a million miles an hour and I said 'my God, you would want him in a rugby jersey'. His balance running was phenomenal and it was extraordinary." 

Keith added that, "He is very fit but he's also very big and he's maybe 6 foot 2, 6 foot 3 but the balance of his running was something that yes, I could see in a rugby jersey comfortably." 

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