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Pro12: Openside Murphy wary of clinical Ulster

The 21-year-old flanker has been a rare highlight of Leinster’s season.

Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

ONE OF THE few silver linings on Leinster’s otherwise disappointing season so far has been the emergence of flanker Jordi Murphy as a major talent.

With Sean O’Brien only just returning from a long injury spell, the 21-year-old has found much greater opportunities to impress in the back row.

Though he has yet to surpass the solitary start that he managed last term, he has already made three appearances and 56 more minutes than his debut season.

Tomorrow, he will make his 10th appearance when Leinster seek to arrest their two-game losing run against an Ulster side who will be viciously protective of their unbeaten record in the Pro12.

Despite his relative inexperience, Murphy has settled into the Leinster team mantra almost as easily has he has bedded into the team itself.

“We’ve got to park it now,” He says of the demoralising loss to Clermont. “We’ve got a six-day turnaround to a new competition, or back to the old one, I should say.”

“Leinster have been in positions like this before. Though we haven’t really lost two big games like that in a row, it’s a professional setup here.

“It can’t be on your mind, otherwise you won’t put in a performance this weekend. We know what we have to do, and that’s get our stuff right this weekend.”

Standing between Leinster and a return to winning ways are Europe’s in-form side. Despite Mark Anscombe’s men faltering at home to Northampton on Saturday, they will retain an assurance that they will immediately kick-start another winning run.

Indeed, the prospect of an Ulster side looking to bite back could well be a tougher obstacle than one on top of the world with 14 wins.

“I don’t think it’s ever easy playing Ulster, especially up in Ravenhill. They’ve had serious support this year and their games have been sold out for a couple of weeks now, so it will be a great atmosphere. They’ll probably be firing even more now that they have lost a game.”

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Having won comfortably when the sides last met in Twickenham, Leinster could easily look with some scepticism at their northern rival’s sketchy league performances.

More often than not, Ulster have delivered incomplete performances, scraping by thanks to a few big plays. It’s precisely that, Murphy says, which makes them a top-tier team.

“Well they got the wins that’s all that matters. They’re a good side and that’s what good teams do, win no matter what. They’re playing with pep in their step this year so it’s up to us to stop them this weekend.”

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Sean Farrell

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