Richie Murphy was handed a two-year deal as Ulster head coach earlier this week. Dave Winter/INPHO
richie murphy

'It's going to test me and it's going to push me... it was a no-brainer'

Richie Murphy faces home province Leinster at the Kingspan on Saturday for his first interpro.

RICHIE MURPHY HAS described landing the Ulster head coaching role on a permanent basis as a tremendous opportunity to work at the top end of the game.

After two months as interim head coach, taking over in the wake of Dan McFarland’s exit from the Kingspan Stadium, Murphy was handed a two-year deal at Ulster which was confirmed at the start of this week.

“[I’m] absolutely thrilled,” he said. “It’s nice to put it to bed and get on with the rest of the work.

“It’s an easy decision for me, anyway,” added the successful Ireland U20s coach who has stepped away from that role after being confirmed in Ulster’s top job.

“Ulster is a huge rugby province and a big job within Irish rugby.

“It’s going to test me and it’s going to push me and I’m very happy to do that, and I feel I’m in the right place to do that.

“I’m really proud to take on the role and really looking forward to the challenge,” said the 49-year-old.

“From my end, it was a no-brainer, it was a great opportunity to work at the top of the game with a brilliant club.

“I was always drawn to it. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d been watching Ulster for the last number of years and thinking that I’d like to work there. I would have travelled up working with the (Ireland) U20s but also working with the national team doing skills work with the players.”

Coming off the back of three straight URC wins, and very much in the mix to make the play-offs, Murphy now gets to face home province Leinster at the Kingspan on Saturday for his first interpro.

“It was very weird,” he admitted, “I was sitting at home [in Bray] doing a Leinster preview and my son [Ben], who plays in Leinster, walked in and was standing beside me.

“Even as I was getting my kit to come up to Ulster yesterday, my Ulster kit was hanging on the line and there was a Leinster kit beside it.

“It’s a very unique situation. Ben has been training with the seniors this week and he may be involved, I’m not sure, he’s not telling me much anyway,” he laughed.

Come next month, Murphy and his wife will have moved to Belfast, putting the family home up for rental.

As for this weekend, the new head coach will not have skipper Iain Henderson for what remains of the season as toe surgery will keep him out for three months ensuring the lock also misses Ireland’s tour to South Africa.

Michael Sadlier
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