Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


Forget Dan Sheehan's sidestep, Mack Hansen continues to become a star | Monday Night Rugby

Mack Hansen was outstanding last week against Leinster. He has six tries in seven games, pushing him into the frame for Ireland's Six Nations squad.

Journalist Gerry Thornley joined Monday Night Rugby to discuss Connacht winger Mack Hansen.

"That Dan Sheehan try. There aren't too many hookers in the world who can at full tilt step to his right and then veer back onto his left to beat a winger like Mack Hansen. It was about the only thing Mack Hansen did wrong in the whole game."

By now you've seen the highlight. Leinster's young hooker Dan Sheehan looked like Denis Hickie running in a try against Connacht last weekend. Sheehan beat fellow Ireland squad member Mack Hansen in doing so. For Hansen, watching that clip all over social media can't have been fun. But for everyone else, it distracts from the fact that he was one of the stars on the night.

Gerry Thornley of the Irish Times was at the game. He appreciated the magnitude of that moment from Sheehan, but it didn't negate the overall quality of Hansen's display.

"He was electric," Thornley said.

"What a stunning arrival he's been. Those Connacht launch moves, the way they bring Hansen in off his wing. The way Carty always finds the right man. He has three men on the outside, Hansen comes through, slips the ball back inside for Conor Oliver to score. Connacht scored three cracking tries, and actually did score another one.

"I don't know how the TMO says there's no evidence of grounding the ball when a Connacht player has his hand on the ball."

Hansen has scored six tries in seven games. He was a late addition to Ireland's squad for the November internationals, though he didn't appear in any of the squads. Although Australian by birth and despite having played for Australia's under-20 team, Hansen qualifies for Ireland through his Cork-born mother.

Two-time Six Nations winner Fiona Hayes agreed with Thornley's assessment of the winger.

"We see Mack Hansen springing up everywhere," Hayes said about his impact in Connacht's launch plays.

"It's exciting. That's what's exciting about rugby when you're looking at it and you see people running these expansive lines. He's absolutely breaking that gain line and they seem to do it a lot in their back plays...We see how high Hansen got up [for his try over Jordan Larmour]...We've seen Mack Hansen do this a few times with Carty, he picks him out really perfectly a lot of the time."

The excitement in Connacht will only continue so long as Carty and Hansen continue to find each other. It will only help raise both of their profiles for Andy Farrell.

Harry Byrne needs to show more for Leinster.


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Connacht Jack Carty Mack Hansen