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Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Dan Sheridan/INPHO
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Marmion willing to work and wait to match 'best in the world' Murray
The Connacht star is firmly in the role of impact player for Ireland.

KIERAN MARMION IS happy to downplay the pressure he is putting on Conor Murray.

The Munster, Ireland and Lions scrum-half’s slight groin issue last week resulted in a last-minute call to camp for Marmion.

He would have preferred to play for Connacht that weekend than not, but after a quick chat with Pat Lam he hopped into his car and drove to Monaghan in time to get some sleep ahead of training the following day.

This week though, a fit Murray is naturally an automatic first-choice to start in Ireland’s number nine jersey again. The Welsh-born Connacht star is philosophical about his place in the pecking order. After all, there are few who could contend with the Munster man when he hits top form.

Kieran Marmion and Devin Toner

 

Kieran Marmion and Devin Toner Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“Obviously I want to challenge him,” Marmion said in Carton House yesterday, “but at the moment I think he’s probably the best in the world.”

Just his basics. I mean, he’s probably the best passer and kicker in the game, especially his kicking at the moment is so accurate, and I think that’s something I want to try to get to.

“Joe is always driving on to me about the basics of the game.

“I mean, when you step up to the Irish standard, players have a lot less time on the ball so it’s just about making sure everyone’s as sharp as possible.”

“You just have to work away at it. It’s repetition. Obviously he’s a lot bigger than me so he gets the leverage in his passing and his kicking, so I just have to be sharper and try and get my release on the ball quicker, and try and make sure the lads outside me have more time.”

There is no point in any side denying the lay of the land at scrum-half these days. Skills coach Richie Murphy, representing the management ticket yesterday, pointed to Marmion’s running threat as a useful weapon for the latter stages of matches. But in Murray, they have a ‘classic’ operator who they can build the attack around.

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“They’re very different types of scrum-halves. I think (Marmion) has still got a way to go in terms of how we try to play,” says Murphy.

“Kieran is a really good running scrum-half, a really big threat later on in the games. Where we’re seeing him at the moment is that he could cause a lot of trouble when teams are starting to fatigue.

“Conor is probably a little more classic. He kicks well, passes well, he understands the game, he deals with the pressure very well and I still think he has a fair bit of an edge in relation to his passing and kicking game over Kieran at the moment.”

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