Tuesday 25 July 2017

Murphy honoured to lead Ireland

Geordan Murphy. Photo: Getty Images
Geordan Murphy. Photo: Getty Images

Geordan Murphy has spoken of his pride in captaining Ireland for the first time as they provide the opposition for New Zealand Maori's centenary match tomorrow.

The full-back has won 67 caps for his country and has captained Leicester on occasions but the Rotorua clash will be the first time he has led out the national team.



"It's a huge honour (to be captain), a massive one," he told www.irishrugby.ie. "It's one I didn't expect but I can't imagine anything that would compare.



"Obviously playing for Ireland is fantastic and leading them out will be amazing.



"It's a very special occasion on the weekend. We're fully aware of the Maori heritage and it's obviously 100 years since the team got together and they're a fantastic side.



"When I was a young player I would always watch the Maoris play and admire the way they throw the ball around."



An entirely changed starting XV from last Saturday's 66-28 defeat to New Zealand sees Murphy partnered with uncapped club-mate and namesake Johne in the back line.



Ed O'Donoghue, Rhys Ruddock and Chris Henry will also win their first caps as coach Declan Kidney gives a host of fringe players a chance to stake their claim for a place in next Saturday's clash with Australia.



"There's a few opportunities for guys who haven't had a run or maybe don't have as many caps as others. You know everyone starts somewhere," said Murphy.



"Everyone needs those opportunities to put in a good performance and at the end of the day we're pulling on Ireland jerseys. You need no more incentive.



"Everyone will be up for it. We've touched on how passionate the Maori guys will be. It's up to us to bring a little bit of Irishness to it as well."



The Maori XV includes five players capped by New Zealand - captain Liam Messam, back-row colleague Tanerau Latimer, centre Luke McAlister, winger Hosea Gear and hooker Corey Flynn.



Maori coach Jamie Joseph said: "There is a great buzz around Rotorua at the moment and the team knows the whole town is behind them.



"The fact that we are about to play in the same place as the first ever game played by the New Zealand Maori rugby team 100 years ago is very special."

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