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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 17 December, 2018

Standout display against Toulon the latest in Murphy's Leinster repertoire

The 23-year-old has been a vital cog in Matt O’Connor’s team in Europe.

IT’S DIFFICULT TO suggest this as Jordi Murphy’s breakthrough season, given that the Barcelona-born back row made 14 Leinster starts in 2013/14 as well as winning his first Ireland caps.

But the 23-year-old has underlined his status as a flanker of premier class in this campaign with both country and province.

Mathieu Bastareaud is tackled by Jimmy Gopperth and Jordi Murphy Murphy carried out the demanding task of hauling Mathieu Bastareaud to ground. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Murphy’s latest demonstration of his ever-growing powers came at Stade Vélodrome yesterday as he stood out during Leinster’s 25-20 Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Toulon.

After playing every one of the 100 minutes of action in a compelling clash, Murphy was in high demand post-match.

From an interview in fluent Spanish, back to discussing the defeat in English, and with drug testers waiting in the background all the while to whisk him away, the Lansdowne FC man was as composed as he had been out on the Marseille turf.

“We have to be proud of ourselves, but we just came up short,” said a battered and bruised Murphy.

It was just one of those things, a bounce of a ball and on a different day it might have turned out differently for us. We’re very proud of everyone, we gave it our all and it just wasn’t to be today.

“It was hammer and tongs all the way through. No one gave way and it showed after 80 minutes, it being 12-12 and not a try scored.”

Murphy admitted the heavy rain before and during the first half had made handling the ball a demanding task, as evidenced by the high error count from both teams. Leinster dealt with the elements more competently to lead at half time, but Toulon were forced into a personnel change approaching the interval that would have a telling effect.

An injury to Bernard Laporte’s starting blindside flanker allowed him to spring the competition’s most effective turnover merchant and suddenly Leinster went from a dominant breakdown position to chasing an Englishman around the rucks.

Steffon Armitage is tackled by Cian Healy Armitage had a telling impact off the bench. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“It’s a pretty good substitution for them to make, isn’t it?” said Murphy. “Juan Smith goes off and Steffon Armitage comes on, and I definitely think he added to it.

“We always knew he was going to and it was one of the things that we aimed at during the week, if he came on to make sure that we didn’t give him a sniff. Unfortunately we did a few times and the more he got into it, the more [Chris] Masoe got into it as well.

They made us pay the price a few times when we were in good positions by turning over our ball.”

Murphy was part of the breakdown resistance, performing well in that area while also getting through an impressive amount of high-quality tackling and featuring prominently in the set-piece.

While the ball only came his way in phase play thrice, this was another impressive outing for Murphy, even if his team came out on the losing side. The 23-year-old will mark it down as a learning experience, ready to be called on next time.

“Absolutely, getting a taste of it and knowing how close I was to playing in a European final. I’ll keep that memory and if I’m in that position again in years to come, I’ll do my best not to feel the way I did after those 100 minutes of rugby.”

For one brief moment, every Leinster fan thought they were going to the European Cup final

‘A lot of people had written us off’ – O’Connor proud of Leinster effort

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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