Friday 20 October 2017

'I told the medics there was no way I was missing Irish history'

Jordi Murphy of Ireland is attended to after receiving an injury during the International rugby match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago, USA. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Jordi Murphy of Ireland is attended to after receiving an injury during the International rugby match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago, USA. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ireland international Jordi Murphy (right) and Sean Cronin launching the Vodafone #TeamOfUs Bus competition yesterday Picture: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

It was a sight that is unfortunately all too common in professional sport nowadays, so when Jordi Murphy hit the Soldier Field turf as if he had just been taken out by a sniper, he and everyone watching immediately knew that the injury was serious.

What made Murphy's knee injury all the more frustrating was that it came about as a result of his relentless desire to close down a quickly taken New Zealand lineout that had in fact been called back by the referee.

Such was the noise inside the heaving Chicago Bears stadium, Murphy didn't hear Mathieu Raynal's whistle and when his left knee buckled, his part in the creating of Irish history was over.

It was a cruel end for Murphy, whose try got Ireland back into the game and ultimately set them on their way to sealing that famous first victory over the All Blacks.

"I just remember it being pretty sore for about a minute or two and then they gave me a green puffer thing and then it wasn't sore," Murphy recalls.

"(Conor) Murray box-kicked and it had just bounced in play and kind of dribbled out and they went for a quick throw and I went to chase it down because I didn't hear the ref's whistle and the next thing I just felt my knee go the complete opposite way to where it should be going.

"I knew straight away it wasn't great and then I suppose after a few seconds. . . it was very sore but I was more upset about the fact that I wasn't going to be able to play the rest of the game considering I felt there had been that kind of momentum shift.

"They scored pretty early on and then I scored and CJ (Stander) after and I felt like we were rumbling on. I just wanted to be part of it. It was very disappointing knowing I was going to have to go off.

Ireland international Jordi Murphy (right) and Sean Cronin launching the Vodafone #TeamOfUs Bus competition yesterday Picture: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Ireland international Jordi Murphy (right) and Sean Cronin launching the Vodafone #TeamOfUs Bus competition yesterday Picture: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

"Look, it was incredible to be involved in it on the day. Obviously I would have liked to have played a further part in the game but I guess, the way I can look at it, and the way people have been telling me to look at it is, I was there and played a part in it. It can't be taken away from me. It's just unfortunate that I got injured there.

"I suppose the silver lining is you'd rather get injured in that game than in a lot of others."

Murphy was carted off the pitch and immediately had an X-ray but in his eyes, it was all a formality. He knew the severity of the damage that had been done, and there would be plenty of time to dissect it afterwards, but his immediate focus was on watching the remainder of the game.

That, however, proved problematic until Murphy refused to be taken to hospital for further scans and instead stressed the importance of being present for what was unfolding outside.

"I didn't watch the rest of the first half because I went for an X-ray," he explains.

"I was outside the changing-room waiting for them to do the half-time team talk because I didn't want to go in while they were doing that. My dad was with me and we watched a bit of the game on the video analysis laptop.

"The American doctors, who are very good, but can be a bit fussy, were trying to get us to go to the hospital for more scans but sure we knew the leg was done.

"I was like 'I'm not leaving now, there's 15 minutes to go in the biggest game of Irish history possibly'.

"Anyway they kept pestering me, so we sent them off to get the car and then we snuck out the back and got out on the pitch, on crutches, we made it though.

"They couldn't get to us then, we were on the pitch. They stayed well away from us! We just went the next morning."

Murphy's confidence hasn't dwindled throughout a testing period as he sets his sights on returning before the end of the season.

In the meantime, the spell on the sidelines has given him the opportunity to clear up a couple of other niggles, while he is also hoping to complete his business degree in UCD. Life outside rugby goes on and Murphy certainly understands that.

"It's just the way of it, there's nothing I can do about it, it's just what happened," the 25-year-old reflects.

"My goal straight away was to try and take a bit of time off the six months (initial diagnosis)and I figured there was still a bit of time left in the season so I guess just try and get back in.

"Maybe just try and get a couple of games with Leinster and you never know, I'm ever the optimist. There's a tour to Japan so we'll wait and see."

A tough road still lies ahead but having accepted the hand he was dealt, Murphy can be comforted by the fact that he played a big part in creating Irish history.

Irish Independent

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