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For many he's the complete player but Conor Murray wants to add another string to his bow

The scrum-half is continuously working on his kicking.

Murray was taking part in the Conversion Challenge in Dublin yesterday.
Murray was taking part in the Conversion Challenge in Dublin yesterday.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IF THERE IS one area in which Ireland have no shortage of resources it’s in the place-kicking ranks but that doesn’t stop Conor Murray from developing his own prowess in order to become a better player.

With the two Ians – Madigan and Keatley – vying to be understudy to Johnny Sexton, Murray would be forgiven for resting on his laurels and trying to fine-tune other aspects of his game.

But, as his box-kick as become an integral component of his, and Ireland’s, game, the 25-year-old is determined to add another string to his bow as he looks to flourish as a versatile operator.

“I practise it all the time and it’s something I really like doing,” Murray said. “I started doing it in training and just kept it up after Neil Jenkins saw me do it on the Lions tour in 2013. He obviously saw something so that gave me some encouragement to keep at it.

“There’s logic to it. If Ian [Keatley] was to get injured during a game for Munster and go off as a blood replacement, the sub wouldn’t be able to come on and kick so it’s handy to be able to do it – I might as well keep practising.”

It’s a skill he’s keen to develop. Under the guidance of former Welsh 10 and Lions coach Neil Jenkins as well as Richie Murphy in the Irish camp, Murray has worked on his kicking, both from hand and the tee, meticulously as he’s progressed through the ranks.

“I’m getting pointers from the lads and just finding out my own routine and what works for me. You see kickers from all over the world and they kick the ball differently so it’s all about what works for you.”

Conor Murray clears Murray's box-kick has become an integral part of Ireland's game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Murray was very nearly deployed as an emergency out-half for Munster’s Heineken Cup semi-final last year in Marseille and in the dying embers of the season, assumed kicking duties in a 55-12 win over Edinburgh.

“It was nice to get a chance in a game and I’m two from two so I keep reminding Keats [Ian Kealtey] of that every now and again,” he jokes.

“You want to be the best player you can be and the more strings to your bow you can add the better and more useful you are to the team.”

Both France and Italy have had a multitude of goal-kicking scrum-halves but Murray admits the calibre of player Joe Schmidt has at his disposal will mean he’ll only ever be needed, on the international stage anyway, in an emergency.

After a training camp in Galway during the week, the Ireland squad enjoy a weekend off before reconvening in Carton House on Tuesday as preparations for the visit of England escalate.

The last time Ireland beat the old enemy was March 2011, a game Murray watched at home with a few friends.

His career has blossomed since then and having endured defeats to England in the last three Six Nations campaigns, there is an added determination this time around with the World Cup on the horizon.

“It’s going to be a tough task and a step up from the French game,” he said. “There’s an extra incentive for me and a few of the lads who haven’t experienced that winning feeling against them but that aside it’s a huge game.

“Not only is it crucial for the Championship and would put us in a good position but continues that momentum we’ve built up.”

Lucozade Sport Ambassador Conor Murray took part in the Lucozade Sport Conversion Challenge, located at Grand Canal Dock in Dublin.

Rugby fans are invited to take part in the challenge on Saturday 28 February and Sunday 1 March to be in with a chance of winning tickets to Ireland v England in the RBS Six Nations. For more information visit www.lucozadesport.ie 

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