Murray's €500,000 bonanza
CONOR MURRAY admitted that he was flattered by interest from French and English clubs, but said the pursuit of silverware with Munster was the main attraction in committing to the province until 2016.
The IRFU claimed their first victory in their battle against the continental big spenders by seeing off a host of clubs, including Toulouse, to secure their Lions scrum-half on a contract estimated to be worth €200,000-€250,000 a year.
By convincing the Limerick man to join the elite club of Ireland players on the Union's payroll, the next task for the IRFU is to get the likes of Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien, Rory Best and Paul O'Connell -- who revealed that his negotiations are at a "delicate" stage -- to follow Murray's lead and commit to staying in Ireland despite interest from abroad.
"There was a bit of interest from clubs in France and in England as well, which is great. It's a bit of a confidence booster," Murray said.
"Weighing up things, this is where I want to be at this point of my career. I'm young, I still have a lot of developing to do, and being in Munster and in Ireland is the best place to develop my game and take that next step that I want to do. Fingers crossed there is a bit of silverware mixed in as well.
"People ask you if France is an option or other clubs in other countries, and you have to have a look at your options, but for me and at my age, and with the group of players that are around here at Munster, there is something special that could happen."
Ireland skipper O'Connell's future remains unresolved and yesterday he spoke of continuing his playing career until 2016, but whether he does it in the red of Munster remains to be seen.
"Hopefully," he said when asked if he would follow suit and commit his future to the two-time European champions.
"I'm trying to figure out my future at the moment and it is kind of delicate. It's not something I want to discuss, but I'm delighted Conor has signed up with Munster, he is a great player for us, a big leader.
"I'd probably like to play up to the next World Cup and that season as well. I'd see where I am after that. If the body is in good shape I'd like to keep going after that. It all depends."
Murray confirmed he will be out for a month with a knee ligament injury, so Cathal Sheridan and Duncan Williams are battling it out for the No 9 jersey for Saturday's pivotal Heineken Cup meeting with Perpignan.
Tommy O'Donnell could also come into the reckoning, but Ian Keatley remains a doubt. However, Munster head coach Rob Penney was hopeful about the out-half's ability to shake off his dead leg.
The Top 14 club have given Welsh pair James Hook and Luke Charteris and South African scrum-half Dewaldt Duvenage a couple of days off ahead of the clash, but all are expected to be available to face Munster at the Stade Aime Giral.
Meanwhile, the French club have lodged a complaint with Heineken Cup organisers ERC about the performance of English referee Greg Garner in last Sunday's defeat at Thomond Park.