Tuesday 25 October 2016

'We have the chance to get rid of World Cup demons'

Murray eager to make a mark in Europe with Munster to help ease pain

Published 12/11/2015 | 02:30

Scrum-half Conor Murray believes that the disappointment of the World Cup campaign will live with the Irish players involved for a long time
Scrum-half Conor Murray believes that the disappointment of the World Cup campaign will live with the Irish players involved for a long time

When it comes to forging the reality of a particular situation, Conor Murray isn't one who usually pulls any punches so when he talks about wanting to exorcise 'demons' that are in his head following Ireland's World Cup exit, you tend to take him at his word.

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Murray was by no means poor at the tournament, but the high standards that he sets for himself meant that he wasn't entirely satisfied with his own performances.

Several of the Irish players have claimed that the defeat to Argentina has been completely parked due to commitments with their provinces and although Murray certainly welcomes the distraction, the pain hasn't been forgotten about that easily.

"It was a tough thing to get over. It probably will live with a lot of players for a long time," he conceded.

"I was talking to Joe (Schmidt) about it, it would be worse if we didn't get to play another game for a couple of months.


"We're lucky that we're in the middle of our season, and we get to get out there and get rid of a few demons and just get going again and focus on something new.

"I have my own ones (demons) in my head that I'll keep in my head and try and fix for the next time.

"I watched bits of the Argentina game. I probably haven't watched all of it. That will live you for a while. Little bits, you think you could have done things better.

"You were probably feeling sorry for yourself for a few days, but then when you get back into training, the lads are buzzing. But definitely it will be in the head for a while but you have to get through it."

Murray has returned to a Munster dressing room without leaders such as Paul O'Connell and Peter O'Mahony which puts extra responsibility on his shoulders.

It's the kind of pressure however that Murray has grown used to in recent seasons and he insists that it is now up to a new generation to carry forward the mantle that has been passed down to them.

"I kind of felt like an outsider coming back, with a lot of new faces, missing a lot of old faces," the scrum-half admitted.

"It didn't take a while to really get back into it but it was just a bit different and then you are straight into it and training with the lads there is a good buzz.

"There is a group of us at a similar age who have been through Europe a few times and felt a few disappointments and a few good nights as well.

"It's a good bit of experience in our books there, that we can get people together. Especially with this being our first time in Europe with this group of players.

"We do need a lift in intensity this weekend and for next weekend. So just trying to let people know that there has to be a difference in training this week, and a difference in mentality.

"You can't get yourself up to the maximum every week, it's physically impossible. So these weeks you have to save a bit in the tank and push yourself that bit more."

Ireland's World Cup exit may still be fresh in Murray's mind but so too is Munster's failure to get out of their Champions Cup pool last season.

If the likes of Murray and his Irish team-mates are to begin to rid themselves of the demons, then it is crucial that they start with a win against Treviso at Thomond Park on Saturday.

"I think without doubt that is one of our aims - to get out of this group and get into the knock-out stages," the 26-year old said.

"You don't want to pile on the pressure too much onto the players who are playing in Europe for the first time by talking about the past and stuff. But we will learn from our own experiences.

"Munster and Europe go together. It's what this club is based on so it is something that is close to our hearts and something we always want to perform in. It is no different this year."

There may be a sense that this is the beginning of a new era with certain players making their European bow in red but from a coaching point of view, Munster are a full season down the line under Anthony Foley and Murray is adamant that is crucial in their development.

"Over the past five years, we have had three different head coaches with Munster and more often than not our pre-season has been based around a new game-plan and getting to know new coaches - what they like and don't like.

"We are a year further down the track with this (coaching) team now and everyone has a year more understanding of what we want to do so there should be a better flow to us."

By his own admission, the demons in Murray's head will take some time to be fully removed but the return of European rugby should act as a crucial step along the way.

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