Friday 22 September 2017

Conor Murray insists rest not an option as he looks forward to Argentina

Conor Murray with his Munster player of the year award at the Maryborough Hotel in Cork yesterday
Conor Murray with his Munster player of the year award at the Maryborough Hotel in Cork yesterday

John Fallon

Conor Murray has probably had the most gruelling year of any Irish player, but he has become the latest to appeal to Joe Schmidt to include him on the plane to Argentina next month.

Murray, who was yesterday named as the Irish Independent Munster Player of the Year, has been on the go since playing his part in the Lions' success in Australia last summer.

But even with a few matches still to play for Munster, he says he is in flying form and hopes to be heading to Buenos Aires on June 1 for the two games against the Pumas.

"I 100pc want to go to Argentina. I just turned 25, I feel great, the more rugby I play the better I feel and that's how I get my confidence, from just playing games and knowing that I'm playing well.

"Within the Irish squad we had a great, successful Six Nations and we just want to build on that. You don't want to give too many people opportunities in your position, so I definitely want to go out there and play as much as I can. And it's going on a tour with your country – you want to get as many caps as you can and there's no question of a rest for me, definitely not," he said.

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The Patrickswell native has chalked up 27 caps for Ireland, eight of them this season and he is keen to add to that tally. His selection yesterday as Munster's top player comes just three years since he picked up the award as best academy player and while his rise has been fantastic, the last 12 months have been unreal.

"I'm sure in the summer, looking back on the season from the Lions tour and the Six Nations success, it has been unbelievably enjoyable and at the end of the day, it's all about winning and that's what you want to do as much as possible.

"I've enjoyed my rugby all this year. I'm enjoying myself and I feel I can express myself as well, which is what you want to be able to do in the sport you love."

He grew up a Munster supporter and became accustomed to the Reds measuring their seasons with what was planted in the trophy cabinet at the end of it, so he found it unsettling to have themselves regarded as underdogs going into the Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulon.

His belief is that Munster are good enough to win any trophy any season and should never be prepared for being in any way content with putting up 'good' performances in big games.

"I think it might be an old-fashioned supporter's outlook on how Munster play.

"That is valid as well and there's a place for that. Down through the years Munster have come up against greater teams and the squads they had at their disposal.

"So that's no surprise there, but for us to believe and for us to win trophies and titles we have to believe we're better than the team we're coming up against. I think it's crucial for us as a squad that we do believe and I did find it frustrating coming up to the Heineken semi-final.

"I know Toulon are probably an exception. They have a lot of superstars and proven internationals, but, at the same time, no one even spoke about how good we were or what kind of talented players we have in our squad. It was all about Toulon, which you do understand to a point, but at a certain stage it did become frustrating," said Murray.

There is some consolation that, unlike last year when they bowed out to Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup semi-finals and their season ended in a dead rubber away to Zebre, that at least this time they are in contention for the Pro12 title.

"You're in the moment; we're a couple of weeks after a Heineken Cup semi defeat which is disappointing and you always live in the moment.

"So, right now it is quite frustrating the way our season has gone, but we still have the Pro12 to play for which is exciting and we've picked ourselves up for that," said Murray.

Irish Independent

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