Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
# Relief
Huge boost for Munster and the Lions as Conor Murray returns to full training
The Ireland scrum-half has been struggling with a nerve issue but is now fit again.

CONOR MURRAY SAYS he has returned to full training with Munster and may play as soon as Saturday’s Pro12 clash with Connacht in Limerick.

The scrum-half has been struggling with a nerve issue in his shoulder and neck area since being injured during Ireland’s Six Nations defeat to Wales on 10 March.

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With Murray having suffered a setback in his recovery, there were even concerns that he may not recover in time to tour with the Lions in June, as head coach Warren Gatland said the Ireland international would ideally need to play for Munster before travelling to New Zealand.

But the 28-year-old delivered relieving news this afternoon as he declared himself fully fit again, stating that he has finally taken contact in Munster training.

“It’s been a really frustrating six or seven weeks, with a setback in the middle,” said Murray. “Had I not got that setback I would have hoped to be back a little bit sooner. I’m good, I’ve been doing contact and trained fully with the squad this week.

“I did one-on-one contact yesterday with a few of the players and made full-on tackles, took full-on tackles. Training with the squad on Tuesday, that’s our big day and not that it gets heated but it’s supposed to be touch and it can get a little bit heavy-handed at times.

“I was involved in that session, trained fully, took a few knocks or shoulders and didn’t think about the injury. The strength is back so I’m fit to play rugby. Hopefully this weekend I’ll be involved, all going well, and if I’m not I have another week off with the Champions Cup final.

“I don’t need it, I’m fit, but there’s never any harm in getting an extended rest. I’d bet a good bit that I’ll be involved in the semi-final, please God.”

Murray’s setback came in the first week of April during his first heavy weights session in the gym after the initial injury, with the straining of his neck aggravating the nerve and greatly slowing his recovery.

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That setback led to Gatland sharing his concern over the scrum-half and Murray himself admits that he even had some fears about his playing career.

Nerve damage can be very difficult to recover from and though he was positive in his mindset about recovering, Murray says there were moments of doubt.

“I would be lying if I said no. That thought comes into your head, ‘Is it going to get better? Do I need surgery?’ all those things. But talking to the physios, working with them, testing my strength every week, it was always improving.

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“We were always on the right track. Seeing neurologists, getting second opinions, seeing everyone we could possibly see and everyone we saw was positive and upbeat about the upward curve I was on. That thought does come into your head automatically because it means so much for me to be a rugby player and I have a good few years left still.

“To have that thought in your head is an awful thought and you see people retiring from injury and it’s not nice, it’s very difficult. That thought came into my head but that was only a small part.

“My headspace was really good because we had seen everyone we needed to see and we knew it was really positive. We were on the right track, which was great.”

Ireland have been criticised for their part in the Murray injury, having allowed the scrum-half to play on after he initially sustained the ‘stinger’ in the first half of the defeat to Wales.

Murray continued to play on and was only withdrawn in the second half. However, the scrum-half insists that Ireland’s decision to leave him on the pitch after the initial impact in a tackle on George North did not worsen his condition.

[image alt="Conor Murray goes down injured" src="" width="630" height="399" credit-source="INPHO" caption="Murray%20suffered%20the%20injury%20on%20Ireland%20duty." class="alignnone" /end]

“No, because, in my opinion – doctors and physios might say something else – but in my opinion, I didn’t do any more damage when I came back on. I didn’t take any direct hits on it.

“The damage was done from that tackle, I didn’t extend the damage or make my injury longer or make my return-to-play longer. It was just in that tackle where I actually mistimed the tackle, got my head on the wrong side and squashed my head a little bit and that damaged the nerve and sent a stinger down my arm.

“It just took a lot longer than we expected, well not a lot longer because we knew it was a nerve injury. I was asking everyone who had ever had a nerve injury, ‘When did you get your strength back? When were you back?’ Some lads were a week, some lads were four weeks, some lads were beyond that, some lads were a couple of months.

“I was five, six weeks pretty much. It’s a frustrating time because you don’t know when the strength is going to come back, but thankfully it has. It comes back gradually and I feel strong enough to play rugby, which is great.”

Maximuscle have launched a new range of protein bars as part of their “Home of Gains” campaign. To celebrate the launch Maximuscle ambassador Conor Murray held two exclusive training sessions in Dublin.

The sessions were held by Murray at the specially created Home of Gains gym, in partnership with RAW, one of Ireland’s premium strength and conditioning gyms.

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