Saturday 24 September 2016

Murphy eager to seal spot at top table

Published 08/05/2015 | 02:30

4 May 2015; Leinster's Jordi Murphy, right and Colm O'Shea, during squad training. Leinster Rugby Squad Training. Rosemount, UCD, Belfield, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
4 May 2015; Leinster's Jordi Murphy, right and Colm O'Shea, during squad training. Leinster Rugby Squad Training. Rosemount, UCD, Belfield, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Leinster's poor domestic form this season doesn't allow any room for complacency and despite the fact that they are no longer competing for a trophy, Jordi Murphy is adamant that the players remain fully focused on ensuring that no late slip-ups occur.

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The Blues are still not guaranteed a spot in next season's Champions Cup and must finish in the top six to do so.

Matt O'Connor's side came unstuck against this evening's opponents, Benetton Treviso, earlier in the season and a late try by the Italians resulted in a 24-24 draw.

The result typified Leinster's struggles this season and Murphy isn't taking anything for granted - he was impressed with Treviso's battling display against Munster last time out.

Treviso themselves are embroiled in a battle to make next season's Champions Cup as the look to finish ahead of Zebre, and Murphy is expecting a "tough battle".

"It's good still have a focus considering the amount of trophies Leinster have been in contention for over the last number of years - the focus of staying in the top six is keeping us all on our toes," the back-rower said.

"We haven't been on a good run of form, that's obvious for everyone to see, but we know that we just have to step it up a gear.

"Treviso are fighting for their own European place next year - they're four points ahead of Zebre and that's a battle in itself.

"It showed how they played against Munster last week. They went out and scored three tries and I thought that was quite impressive.

"They have good strong aspects of their game like the rolling maul and they've a good squad so they're not coming over here to roll over - it's going to be tough battle," the former Blackrock College student added.

As a Leinster supporter and player, Murphy isn't used to being in this situation at this stage of the season but he is determined to do all he can to help put Leinster back in Europe's elite competition.

The return of Isa Nacewa has brought an excitement around Leinster HQ - Murphy is relishing the chance to play alongside the Kiwi again.

Like several of his team-mates, Murphy will miss the beginning of Leinster's season due to the World Cup and he believes that Nacewa's experience will prove invaluable.

"It was my first year of breaking in when it was Isa's last year at Leinster and he was always a great guy to have around. He was an invaluable member of the squad and I'm sure he will be again," Murphy commented.

"Considering we'll probably have a large number of players away at the World Cup it'll be great to have him around and his experience will be really needed then.

"He's just a 'follow by example' kind of guy, he's one of those players who I can't remember a game where he didn't give it his all he was just outstanding.

"The great thing about Leinster is that if you do need advice there's always a back or a forward among the older lads who's there for you - just because it happens to you for the first time doesn't mean it's the first time something like that has happened.

"The older guys are always good to speak to about their experiences. He trained incredibly hard and he played incredibly hard. I'm sure he'll slot straight back in."

Before Leinster can welcome Nacewa back, they must ensure that he will be returning a side playing in the Champions Cup.

Irish Independent

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