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'Conor Murray's pass is the best pass in Ireland' - Brian O'Driscoll

The former Ireland captain believes some criticism of the scrum-half has been unwarranted.

BRIAN O’DRISCOLL SAYS some of the criticism Conor Murray has faced in recent times has been unwarranted and the former Ireland captain also feels the Munster scrum-half still has the best pass in Irish rugby.

31-year-old Murray has been Ireland’s first-choice scrum-half since 2011 but supporters and pundits have consistently questioned his status over the last two seasons.

conor-murray Conor Murray has racked up 81 caps for Ireland since 2011, as well as touring with the Lions twice. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

While O’Driscoll doesn’t believe that Murray is currently playing to his maximum ability, he says the experienced scrum-half’s apparent decline has been overstated in some quarters.

“I understand why an 80% capacity Conor Murray is still very much to be reckoned with,” says O’Driscoll.

“The calm, the influence he brings, the comfort and confidence he generates in guys who have played with him for 10 years and the guys just coming in who see what he does in training, never gets flustered, plugging all the holes, doing all the clever things.

“I’ve always been a huge Conor Murray fan and continue to be, even though he’s not at the height of some of his previous contribution over the last 10 years.”

O’Driscoll is of the view that Murray remains the best passing scrum-half in the country, keeping him ahead of current Ireland squad rivals Kieran Marmion and Jamison Gibson-Park.

That said, ex-Leinster and Ireland centre O’Driscoll would like to see Murray improve as an attacking threat around the ruck, where he was previously a particular danger to opposition defences.

“Conor Murray’s pass is the best pass in Ireland,” says O’Driscoll. “What should your scrum-half be doing better than everybody else? It’s passing the ball. I think it’s Conor Murray, then John Cooney, then Jamison Gibson-Park, then Kieran Marmion, purely on the passing level.

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“For me, if you’re the best passer, you’re in a strong position straight away.

brian-odriscoll-and-sene-naoupu O'Driscoll teamed up with Guinness in support of the new Irish Women’s Rugby jersey. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Conor Murray has hit some pretty lofty heights in the last 10 years and he’s not at that level in the last two years since the Lions tour and the Grand Slam year.

“But he is someone that exudes a calmness and an influence on those around him. That lack of panic counts for a huge amount. It feels like he’s going to make good decisions more often than not.

“I don’t think the speed of decision is as strong as it was in the past. He feels a little more formulaic that he was in the past, I’d love to see the natural footballer in him come out more because he’s a great footballer and he reads the game well.

“I think we need a little more from him in an attack perspective but he’s playing to a game plan in Munster where he’s box-kicking a lot. I don’t think Conor Murray is just choosing himself to box-kick the ball, he is being told that’s the way Munster need to go. 

“I do feel that some of the flak he’s gotten is somewhat unwarranted.”

Guinness teamed up with Sene Naoupu and Brian O’Driscoll to announce a partnership with Canterbury, Intersport Elverys, and the IRFU in support of the sale of the newly-released Irish Women’s Rugby team jerseys across its retail sites; the Guinness Webstore and Guinness Open Gate Brewery from 21 October while stocks last. 

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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