career path

Geordan Murphy would have liked to get Ireland's coaching call too

Three backs-focused coaches are helping Ireland’s summer tour preparations, but Murphy feels caught between two stools as an Irishman in the English system.

‘THE OUTSIDER’ WAS the title of Geordan Murphy’s 2012 autobiography and the former Ireland fullback is still feeling a touch overlooked.

While Andy Farrell’s Lions leave has presented international coaching opportunities on Ireland’s tour to the US and Japan to Girvan Dempsey, Felix Jones and Ronan O’Gara – who will pitch in with Ireland’s preparation for the US Eagles – Murphy was helping eir Sport announce their broadcast rights to the tour.

The 39-year-old has been part of the Leicester Tigers’ coaching ticket since retiring in 2013, and remains there through a season of turmoil that saw Richard Cockerill leave after a poor Champions Cup campaign. Murphy is now an assistant to Matt O’Connor in his second stint at the club, but the notion that he will forever be a part of the furniture at Welford Road is fanciful in Murphy’s view. He has himself prepared to move on up any coaching ladder that comes his way.

“Obviously, I stayed with Leicester for a long time as a player. I felt loyal to them and they’ve given me the opportunity to coach. I’m really enjoying that and I want to get better at it.

“You can never see yourself as being a long-term coach in any one place such is the turnover. This season at Leicester is probably my toughest season in rugby in 20 years. I’ve been trying to get into different environments to get better.

I would have loved to go (on summer tour). I’m kind of between two brackets. It’s quite awkward,in England, the RFU don’t want to invest me and progress me because they see me as Irish, but I’m kind of out of sight and out of mind (for Ireland).

“I see the young coaches going on tour and it’s kind of…” Murphy cranes his neck with a sentence-starting ‘ah’ noise like a man trying to get a waiter’s attention, “but unfortunately that’s just the nature of it.”

The 39-year-old has already gone outside of the Tigers’ team rooms to expand his coaching skill-set. He had made moves to sit in with John Mitchell, the outgoing US coach, but the link did not materialise. Former Tigers team-mate and coach Aaron Mauger has also helped him tap into the rich coaching culture in New Zealand.

Geordan Murphy Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“I went to Tana Umaga and the Blues. At the Chiefs I stayed with (All Blacks assistant coach) Wayne Smith and he was kind enough to put me up with his family for the evening…”

“Everyone sets their goals and I want to keep progressing and getting enough experience under my belt. Hopefully, if the opportunity to become a head coach comes, I’m ready to take it with both hands. I feel that’s  the path that I’m on. I might not get the opportunity but I would love to go the whole way. I would love to coach internationally. Like any player, you have ambitions to progress in your job.”

John Hayes, Marie Louise Reilly, Richard Dunne and Geordan Murphy Murphy at the eir Sport launch to announce that eir Sport have the rights to show Ireland's tour of Japan and the US exclusively live. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“With Richard Cockerill I was working with backs and skills, the way it’s working now is Matt O’Connor is our head coach – he’s a very experienced backs coach.  I do backs, kicking, skills, I go with the forwards to work on skills. My role has grown in the last few years and hopefully it will continue to grow.”

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