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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019

Try-scoring Murray desperate to shut down Magic Mike

The Munster scrum-half has twice witnessed the havoc Phillips can wreak on a team that gives him space.

Mike Phillips studies a Conor Murray put-in at the Aviva Stadium.
Mike Phillips studies a Conor Murray put-in at the Aviva Stadium.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

CONOR MURRAY WATCHED Mike Phillips take a rule-breaking lineout throw from Matthew Rees in 2011 and score the try that ultimately defeated Ireland.

The young scrumhalf was taking strides at Munster but was nowhere near the Irish team.

Within seven months, and with a storming end to his breakthrough season, Murray was Ireland’s starting number nine. In his sixth international, the Limerick native faced Phillips and Wales in a World Cup quarter-final.

Murray was in a position to do something about Phillip’s massive Welsh influence but, once again, he was forced to shake a rueful head as the Bayonne-bound scrum-half sniped up the blindside for a crucial try in the corner.

Murray told, “I’ve played against him twice now and he’s a player I obviously looked up to when I wasn’t in the Irish set-up; probably taking a few things from his game.

“It’ll be another interesting battle but hopefully I’ve gained a bit more experience now and it will be a closer one.”

He added, “Probably our height and the way we look is why people do compare us but we do play in a similar way and are physical scrum-halves.”

Wise move? Phillips celebrates in front of dejected Irish players at the 2011 World Cup. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Backing myself

Before the summer to to New Zealand last year, Murray had scored just one try in 25 outings for Munster and Ireland.

Following the First Test defeat to the All Blacks, the 23-year-old sped up his pass delivery appreciably and began to look for gaps in the defence. The new direction, while not always to the fore, was rewarded with his first international try in Christchurch.

The try-scoring touch has served him well for his province this season with five journeys beyond the whitewash this season.

Murray said, “It did start in New Zealand where, mentally, I decided to back myself a bit more, be more confident in my game, take it on physically and take it over the line.” He added:

I’ve only been in international rugby for two and a half years and I think it is about being comfortable in your surroundings and how your team wants you to play… once you know your role you can be free and go for gaps.

“We have a mentality here that if you see something, you go for it. No-one is going to give out to you after the game.”

Murray agrees that the frequency of meetings between the side does lend itself to a ‘derby game’ mentality. He is keen to experience his first win over the Welsh.

He remarked, “They’ve beaten us the last three times so we do owe them one at home and there will be a backlash.”

*Wales v Ireland kicks off at 1:30pm on Saturday and will be reporting on all the live action.

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Patrick McCarry

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