HAVING SPENT MUCH of the past month training with Ireland’s Six Nations squad, Jordi Murphy is glad to be back playing games with his province.
The Leinster back row starts at No. 8 for the second week running against the Dragons this evening, having played the full 80 minutes in a “rusty” team performance versus Zebre last Sunday. While Murphy’s late surge of provincial form in the build-up to the Six Nations didn’t prove enough to see him included in either of Ireland’s match-day squads so far, he is back at Leinster with Joe Schmidt’s encouraging words driving him.
“He spoke to everyone that wasn’t going to be involved in the 25-man squads, just said to keep trucking along, keep impressing with your province. You’ve just got to give him a selection headache by playing well.
Murphy is enjoying having the number eight on his back again after being briefly pushed to openside to cover for the injured Sean O’Brien in the final two rounds of the Heineken Cup pool stages. The 22-year-old points out that the positions are “very different” and require “tweaks” in approach.
As part of a Leinster pack in which he is the only non-internationally capped member, Murphy will expect to have a solid platform against the Dragons at the RDS. His own international experience in recent times didn’t provide him with any significant new skills, particularly since he had previously worked under Schmidt at Leinster.
“Joe’s brought his same kind of philosophy and attitude to the Irish camp. We have incredibly high standards here [at Leinster] and there’s incredibly high standards there [in Ireland camp]. It’s good to play with players from other provinces and the quality of players is absolutely outstanding when you’re involved in the international set-up. Just everyone’s ambition and drive was good to see.”
Murphy is pleased to be back with his province to get game time. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan.
Having been up close and personal in defending against the much-praised Irish maul during training, Murphy is in a good position to judge what’s made it so successful in the opening two games. The powerful back row says there isn’t anything too complicated, rather basics done well.
“I just think it’s everyone knowing their roles inside out. It probably took them a second and a half, maybe two seconds, to get over for both those tries [against Scotland and Wales]. It’s just everyone knowing their role and going at the same time, working in motion. They just did a great job really.”
Alongside Murphy in the Leinster team this evening is Martin Moore, who has impressed off the bench in both of Ireland’s games in the Six Nations. As a long-time teammate of the tighthead prop, Murphy is thrilled to see Moore excelling.
“Absolutely, Martin is a Lansdowne lad like me. I’ve played with him for the last few years and with the Irish U18s and U20s. So I’m delighted for him to make such a big step up. He was surprised with himself as well. He’s been playing brilliantly so far this year and he’s deserved everything he’s got.
“Seeing someone like him doing so well, you want to do the same as well.
Leinster face the Dragons at the RDS this evening [KO 7.45pm and live on TG4]
Leinster: Z Kirchner; F McFadden, B Macken, N Reid, D Fanning; I Madigan, E Reddan; J McGrath, S Cronin, M Moore; Leo Cullen (Capt.), M McCarthy; R Ruddock, S Jennings, J Murphy.
Replacements: A Dundon, M Bent, T Furlong, T Denton, D Ryan, I Boss, J Gopperth, D Hudson.
Dragons: H Amos; M Pewtner, P Leach, A Smith, W Harries; J Tovey, R Rees; O Evans, TR Thomas, N Buck; C Hill, R Sidoli (Capt.); L Evans, N Cudd, N Talei.
Replacements: S Parry, A Coundley, F Chaparro, M Screech, J Groves, W Evans, S Jones, R Wardle.