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Murray eager to recommence rivalry with Youngs as one of many 'sub-plots' in Munster's clash with Leicester

The scrum-half also made positive noises about the reign of Johann van Graan after catching the South African for a long chat after Ireland’s win over the Springboks.

SCRUM-HALF CONOR Murray is looking forward to locking horns with his old buddy Ben Youngs at Thomond Park on Saturday.

Murray, 28, has battled with Youngs against Leicester Tigers and against England, while they also travelled together on a successful British & Irish Lions tour to Australia in 2013.

Mike Phillips, Ben Youngs and Conor Murray celebrate Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Youngs had to pull out of last summer’s Lions tour to New Zealand due to family reasons, and Murray says he has massive respect for his scrum-half adversary.

“I am really looking forward to it. I have played against him a lot recently and it was disappointing he could not tour in the summer for family reasons. I am sure that was tough on him. He made the selfless call not to travel,” said Murray.

“I respect Ben a lot, we get on really well with him when we do meet each other. Playing against him is always a challenge, he is a top, top scrum-half.

Munster’s Conor Murray and Leicester’s Ben Youngs Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

“And for me playing at home for Munster against Leicester in Europe is massive. Running out in Thomond Park this weekend is going to be class and playing against Ben is another little sub-plot that will give you a little more motivation because when you come up against these top players you want to play well against them and show how good you are.

I am sure it would be the same for Keats, Tyler, JJ if they came up against George Ford. They would be the same, there are a lot of sub-plots.”

Murray made his Munster debut in 2009-10 and has notched up 21 tries in 104 appearances for the province between the Celtic League and Europe since then.
He also has 59 caps for Ireland and this will be his first game working under new Munster head coach Johann van Graan since returning from international duty.

“I actually met Johann after the South African game at the Aviva. We were both late coming into the room and we had a really good chat for about 40 minutes,” said Murray.

“He was here the week of the Racing game and we have had a few chats since then. From speaking to the lads, he is really highly rated.

Johann van Graan Van Graan at the Aviva on one of his final few matches with the Springboks. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“You can tell by him his knowledge of rugby is unbelievable, but he knows himself, he has ideas he wants to implement but you have to be careful how you do that because what we built up last year with Rassie and Jacques was great and we cannot let go of a lot of that.

“Johann has seen areas he would like to improve but we have to get the balance, seeing where to make changes, but when to implement them and make them as seamless as possible. The playing group understand that.

“At the moment we are feeling each other out and it takes a while to get to know people. Rassie and Jacques spoke really highly of him. They got on really well and are different types of people.

“It will take a while for him to truly understand everything. Obviously the slagging we have of one another here, he doesn’t kind of get a grasp of that just yet.

“It did for Rassie and Jacques, in terms of the way we speak to each other. Other than that he has fitted in really well.”

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