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Niggling injuries behind him, Jordi Murphy ready to reach for top form again

Leinster’s flanker has endured a difficult season`after years of constant improvement, but he’s fit and firing again in time for the business end.

Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

ALL TOLD, IT’S been a difficult season for Jordi Murphy.

The versatile Leinster man gave hope to Ireland, scoring the second try of a would-be comeback in the crushing quarter-final loss to Argentina. Yet before and since, Murphy has found himself struggling to maintain the steep upward curve he had grown accustomed to in professional rugby.

After a World Cup warm-up loss at home to Wales, he appeared to feel as though his place had been lost. Not quite, but the rapid rate of improvement of Leinster’s next in line forced him out of the international fold by the Six Nations.

“I suppose players go through a few lows here and there. And I haven’t had a very long career up to now and haven’t really had any, so it was a strange one for me,” Murphy says with tough lessons about the temporary nature of form and favour learned.

“It wasn’t a very nice lesson to learn, but I’ve been feeling a bit better in the last few weeks. My body feels back in check so I’m just hoping to end the season on a high.”

Alongside the mental hurdles of bouncing back from adversity, Murphy also found himself playing through injury, through the pain barrier, hampered by a troublesome groin that was denying him a quick change of pace when tilted for contact.

Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier and Jordi Murphyl Competition: Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier and Jordi Murphy are all internationals competing for limited spaces in the Leinster back row. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“It wasn’t one of those problems where you have to stop playing for a few weeks,” Murphy explains with stubbornness typical of a rugby player who won’t sideline themselves.

“I could keep going, but I was going at probably 60 or 65% for me,” he says now sitting much more comfortably in Sandyford’s Skill Zone complex.

“One of the strengths I’ve had over the last few years is that change-up onto the ball, even coming off the bench, giving that extra bit around the corner and I just couldn’t really find it with that niggle.”

If you’re going to get that shooting pain every time, it’s quite tough to do. Deciding when to do it and when not to was the problem.”

“I feel like I’ve got it right now and am getting a bit of an opportunity now at the tail end and am trying to grab it with both hands and do what I know I can.”

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There’s plenty up for grabs if the 25-year-old 14-Test flanker can come out on top this weekend. With Sean O’Brien almost certain to join Josh van der Flier on the sidelines during the three-Test tour to South Africa, the green openside jersey will again be a hotly contested one next month.

Before he can worry about what sort of form Tommy O’Donnell or his own team-mate Rhys Ruddock carry into the summer though, he must go head-to-head with Chris Henry and Ulster this weekend.

Jordi Murphy Jordi Murphy speaking at Skill Zone, Dublin’s first and only multi-sport indoor attraction. Visit skillzone.ie for more information. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Murphy came off the bench on 30 April when Ulster doled out a beating to their inter-provincial rivals. He played 40 minutes, perhaps too little or too late to change the course of the game, but there is still plenty of time for Murphy and Henry to make their case in front of Joe Schmidt.

“I’m sure he has the same thought process,” Murphy says ahead of his duel with the experienced Ulster number seven.

“If he plays well and does a job for his team, he’s going to be thrown into the selection mix as well. I know Chad well and I know he’s not going to give an inch.

“If I get the opportunity I’ll definitely not give him one.”

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Sean Farrell

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