CONOR MURRAY HAS no qualms about stepping into the out-half position for Munster if he is called upon in the next fortnight.
A groin injury to JJ Hanrahan means that Ian Keatley is now the only registered and recognised number 10 in Munster’s European squad.
After defeat to Glasgow Warriors saw Munster slip to third in the Pro12 head coach Rob Penney this week said that Keatley would not be rested for Saturday’s inter-provincial clash against Connacht at the Sportsground, That leaves Munster hoping for the best and planning for the worst in the pivotal position of any team.
“It’s obviously not my preferred position,” says the scrum-half, “but I played there at under 20s in an inter-pro against Ulster - it was a good experience but our game plan at Munster involved a lot of change anyway between nine and ten.
“If I am chosen to be there I just need more reps. And ideally I’d get a little game-time there this week just to get that feeling of being at 10 in a game with that added pressure on you.
“If I am called upon,” says the MaxiNutrition ambassador while tapping the wood of the table, “and something happens Ian then I have to make sure I’m really ready for that which I am doing this week.
” Getting ready has involved getting time in training outside the number nine while also consulting with both Keatley and Hanrahan over certain protocols that may come into play in a given scenario.
“You mightn’t think it is that different, but it is another world out there. So just chatting to the backs outside you and what they are looking for from you. That’s the last few days, just feeling a bit comfortable there… if I’m asked to go in there I’ll have no problem going in there.”
If the worst comes to the worst and Keatley doesn’t make it through, then Murray will also take over the goal-kicking duties. There are other options in the Munster back-line, but none of Felix Jones, Keith Earls or Johne Murphy have the pedigree of the Lions scrum-half.
Since that tour of Australia, Murray has taken on extra kicking practice with the two front-line number 10s. His best guess at his own consistency in a competitive setting is between 70 and 80 per cent during a season of place-kicking with Garryowen.
Keatley, though, should not feel under threat. Not from this team-mate anyway.
“I’d obviously prefer if Keats didn’t get injured and I could play at nine, and hopefully I’ll be picked at nine, but if I am on when Keats is off the pitch [against Connacht] then it would be ideal to get a few in before I could potentially be called upon in the south of France.”