Ian Keatley ready to step up for Glasgow Warriors in the likely absence of Adam Hastings

Having made 212 appearances in the Pro12 and Pro14, Ian Keatley has had to exercise a little patience as he awaits his 213th outing.

Ian Keatley is hoping to make his Glasgow Warriors debut this weekend. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS
Ian Keatley is hoping to make his Glasgow Warriors debut this weekend. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS

The experienced Irish stand-off joined Glasgow Warriors in January but has yet to play. That should change this weekend when Danny Wilson’s side travel to Parma to play Zebre.

Adam Hastings’ red card against Leinster on Sunday should open the door for Keatley, with the Scotland man likely to be suspended.

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The trip to Italy will be something of a busman’s holiday for Keatley who has spent the last season and a half with Benetton.

Ian Keatley can count Munster and Connacht among his former clubs and has played 212 Pro12/Pro14 matches. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

He rates Saturday’s opponents highly, suggesting they have overtaken his former club as the top team in Italy under the guidance of former Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley.

“I know everyone would describe Benetton as the No 1 team, but Zebre beat Benetton twice over Christmas and have won their last, I think, three games against them,” Keatley said.

“They’ve obviously improved greatly. Michael Bradley is their head coach - he coached me at Connacht and he’s a really nice guy, a good manager.

“They got a good win against Dragons last week and they really are a strong team. They’ve got phenomenal line speed, they’re unbelievable over the ball - they’ll try and get penalties - real good scrum and a really good lineout maul.

“We need to be mentally ready for a battle.”

Keatley, who has been capped seven times by Ireland, is desperate to be involved. He was watching from the sidelines on Sunday and sensed his chance might come when Hastings’ boot caught the face of Cian Kelleher.

“That’s all I want, really - an opportunity to play,” said Keatly. “Hopefully it comes this weekend.”

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The former Connacht, Munster and London Irish man was in line to feature against Benetton last month but the match was postponed, and when Hastings returned from injury earlier than expected Keatley found himself outside the squad, with young Ross Thompson providing back up at 10 from the bench

“With Adam returning, he’s in the Scottish fray and needs game-time,” noted Keatley. “When you’re an experienced player like myself you understand the dynamic between the Scottish Rugby Union and Glasgow, so I completely understand what’s happened so far.”

Only former Connacht captain John Muldoon has made more Pro12/Pro14 appearances than Keatley who is also the competition’s third highest points scorer, behind Dan Parks and Dan Biggar. But at 33, the Dubliner still feels he has plenty to give.

“The lads call me the daddy of the group but the main thing is I still love the game. Mentally I love it and physically it’s not as if I’m going around on crutches. I’m moving well and keeping fit, so as long as I stay fit and healthy I’d like to keep playing.”

Ideally, he would extend his stay with the Warriors for another season and has already had preliminary talks with coach Danny Wilson.

“Obviously that’s all depending on how I go. First of all I need to play. Hopefully I can play well, and then put the question to Danny if I can stay.

Duncan Weir has signed for next year and Ross is here. Hopefully there’s a contract there, but first things first, I have to play - and I have to play well.”

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