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'Dan Kelly enjoyed his time with us but feels he needs to go in a different direction'

Ireland Under 20 coach Richie Murphy has reacted to the news that promising centre Dan Kelly has switched allegiance from Ireland to England.

Leicester's Kelly in action against Montpellier.
Leicester's Kelly in action against Montpellier.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

RICHIE MURPHY, THE Ireland Under 20s coach, has described Leicester Tigers centre Dan Kelly’s switch in allegiance from Ireland to England as ‘a loss’.

The 19-year-old played impressively for Ireland’s Under 20s in last season’s Six Nations before making his breakthrough with Leicester this term. On the back of that he was called up by Eddie Jones for England’s summer Tests against the US and Canada.

“Dan is a loss,” Murphy said. “He was in our system last year. He obviously went back to Leicester and is in college over there. His life is around that area.

“Within the conversations the IRFU have had with him, Dan has been very good. He really enjoyed his time with us, but he feels that he needs to go in a different direction at the moment. We respect his decision and we move on.”

They do so with another batch of players, six of whom – Alex Soroka and Tim Corkery (Leinster debutants this season), Conor McKee and Ben Moxham (Ulster), Cathal Forde (Connacht) and Ben Murphy (Leinster) – featured in last season’s aborted Six Nations campaign.

The last name listed there just so happens to be Murphy’s son. “I suppose day one or two, it was probably a little weird when you look down and you see your son sitting there… to have him in the group is definitely a little bit unusual,” said the coach.

“I suppose from my end, I’m probably glad he was there last year and that it wasn’t me who was putting him into the squad. That made it a little bit easier. He has just applied himself well. He stays away from me; he doesn’t talk to me too much when we are in camp.

“If we have stuff that we need him to do, we go and do that. In fairness to him, he has been really professional about the whole thing. He just gets on with it.”

Murphy also confirmed that Ireland would continue to utilise the expansive game-plan that worked so effectively under his predecessors, when the campaign gets under way in Cardiff next week against Scotland.

“We’ll definitely be looking to move the ball to space, whether through the hands or space in the backfield,” he said.

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The team will be captained by Munster’s Alex Kendellen – a debutant for Johann van Graan’s side this year – and a player who Murphy rates highly.

“He is a quiet individual, but he leads from the front. He is an incredible athlete and a very good rugby player.

“When he is in the group, guys tend to look and listen to him. When he speaks, he’s not a screamer or a shouter; he is very calculated in how he thinks. He’s also very good at driving the coaches’ messages through the team, so he was a standout leader within the group.”

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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