Monday 5 December 2016

Murphy staying focused on Dragons

Published 10/04/2015 | 02:30

Christopher Bailey, from Stepaside, with Leinster Rugby stars Ian Madigan, Rob Kearney and Fergus McFadden in Old Wesley Rugby Club, Dublin, today to mark the launch of the Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Summer Camps which will run in 22 different venues across the province throughout June, July and August (Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE)
Christopher Bailey, from Stepaside, with Leinster Rugby stars Ian Madigan, Rob Kearney and Fergus McFadden in Old Wesley Rugby Club, Dublin, today to mark the launch of the Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Summer Camps which will run in 22 different venues across the province throughout June, July and August (Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE)

Leinster assistant coach Richie Murphy has admitted that despite the majority of this week's focus being on Sunday's Pro12 game against the Dragons, the province will have one eye on next weekend's Champions Cup semi-final against Toulon.

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After overcoming Bath last weekend, Leinster return to domestic action for what Matt O'Connor regularly describes as the province's "bread and butter" and while they are eager to secure their play-off spot, Murphy is trying to find the right balance between this week and next.

Dragons themselves have a European semi-final (Challenge Cup) to look forward to and they would love nothing more than to complete the double over the defending champions at Rodney Parade, but Murphy is eyeing that crucial top-four finish.

"Looking back at the weekend we were happy to get the win. That's behind us now, though, we move on," he insisted.

"We're looking forward to both Dragons and even having a quick look at Toulon. Our focus for this week is purely on Dragons and trying to get ourselves into a position where we can fight for that top four.

"Obviously we are up against it a little bit so it is a case of all hands to the pump and just try and do as much as we can do to force our way into that top four but it is a little bit out of our hands at the moment.

"Everyone is focused on the same things at the moment. The numbers coming out of the weekend were massive, really high in running metres and work rate.

"Lads are coming off that, so it is a case of refreshing those guys and planning for Dragons."

Leinster are still very much in the hunt for two trophies but Murphy is well aware of the fact that their league form has been less than impressive this season.

With just four Pro12 games remaining this season, Murphy is adamant that the returning international players will provide a much-needed boost, but he was also eager to point to the contribution of the younger players during the Six Nations period.

"We definitely haven't performed in the league to the level that we need to," he conceded.

"With players coming in and out, and obviously players over the last season or so dropping out of the squad, the leaders that were there beforehand when the internationals were away are changing now.

"People are trying to develop those areas, those roles. The sooner that happens, the better.

"The young guys coming in have to play in order to get experience. You've got to review how they did on that day, and put them back out again in order to see can you get an improvement."

Murphy is hoping to see Leinster be more clinical in Wales and despite the obvious gulf in class between the Dragons and Toulon, he is adamant that his side can learn a lot from Sunday's game.

"When you look at stuff from the Bath game, you can see opportunities," Murphy said.

"You are looking at Bath over a long period of time, whereas you are turning out week by week and you're flipping teams.

"From a coach's point of view, once we get as far as Wednesday we start looking a week ahead and you finish off the bits you have to do on a Thursday and so on.

"Toulon is next week and we'll deal with that then and probably this week the same opportunities will arise against the Dragons and we've just got to be able to take them."

Irish Independent

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