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Huge boost for Munster as Conor Murray states intention to stay in Ireland

The 26-year-old scrum-half says he wants to stay at home beyond the end of his current contract.

MUNSTER HAVE BEEN handed a major boost with Conor Murray’s affirmation that he wants to stay with the province beyond the end of his current contract.

The 26-year-old’s deal expires next summer, and Munster and the IRFU would have feared that the financial muscle of clubs in England and France might have lured Murray out of the country.

Conor Murray and Ian Keatley Murray shares a joke with Ian Keatley at Munster training yesterday. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

However, the 42-times capped Ireland scrum-half yesterday stated that he is intent on signing a new deal with his home province.

Munster and the other Irish sides are currently in the process of negotiating contracts ahead of next season, with the IRFU’s performance director David Nucifora leading the processes that involve Ireland’s top international players.

Murray said that initial moves have been made in that regard, and that the completion of the current block of Champions Cup games may allow a new deal to be discussed in more depth.

“Negotiations have started and it’s something you don’t want to be thinking about for these big weeks, so it’s been put on the back burner for these games,” said Murray at the Castletroy Park Hotel.

Maybe after Europe, we’ll look at finishing it off and getting it done. I don’t see too many problems with myself. I love playing here, I love playing in Ireland and I want to continue doing that. So it’s not done yet, but hopefully it will be.”

Those words will be encouraging to Munster fans currently worrying about the province’s future after three consecutive defeats, two of those coming at Thomond Park. Murray is perhaps the most important player in the squad, meaning the southern province’s fans will welcome his affirmation of loyalty.

“Yeah, that’s ideally what I’d like to do and I make no bones about it,” said the Patrickswell man. “This is a great club, a great set-up, it’s my home and there’s an unbelievable set-up here.

“It’s almost a no-brainer, I’d love to continue playing here.”

Conor Murray Murray wants to enjoy European success with Munster. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Joe Schmidt will be as pleased as anyone at Murray’s plan to resist the temptation of looking abroad, given his importance as a playmaker and leader for Ireland. Johnny Sexton’s two years in France were a source of frustration for Schmidt, who is naturally keen on ensuring Ireland’s players are managed as ideally as possible.

If Murray does conclude a deal to stay at home, it will keep him under the IRFU’s player management policy, which limits the game time of the leading internationals throughout the season.

Murray’s agent, Shaun Longstaff of Top Marque Sports, will handle the process of negotiating with Nucifora and the IRFU for what is likely to be a highly lucrative central contract. While the player is clearly intent on staying in Ireland, his status within the game means his augmented salary will be one of the highest in Irish rugby.

One aspect of Murray’s desire to stay is a thirst to enjoy trophy success with Munster. He was an important element of the team that won the 2011 Magners League, but has been part of the barren run ever since.

While the scrum-half has been integral in Ireland’s two Six Nations triumphs under Joe Schmidt, he also wants to play a part in Munster returning to former glories.

“That’s probably a big factor when you think about your future and signing on,” said Murray. “You take it separately, Ireland has been brilliant for the last few years and I’ve really enjoyed that.

“With Munster, we’ve been in Europe for the last three or four years and haven’t done too much. I want to be part of some Munster team that does something. That’s another little section, another reason why you would stay here.”

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Murray Kinsella

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