Friday 28 April 2017

Six Nations: Conor Murray row hangs over opener with Scotland

Rugby

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has drawn attention to the first-minute tackle by Jonny Gray,
which he said could have done serious damage to Conor Murray’s knee in Munster’s win over
Glasgow Warriors two weeks ago. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has drawn attention to the first-minute tackle by Jonny Gray, which he said could have done serious damage to Conor Murray’s knee in Munster’s win over Glasgow Warriors two weeks ago. Photo: Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

The fallout from Munster's win over Glasgow Warriors two weeks ago looks set to rumble into Ireland's Six Nations opener against Scotland after Joe Schmidt backed Conor Murray in his dispute with the Scottish club while Vern Cotter dismissed the scrum-half's claims of a premeditated plan to injure him.

Murray last week went public with his unhappiness at what he perceived to be Glasgow's tactic of targeting his standing leg when he was box-kicking during the Champions Cup clash and, while Schmidt attempted to draw a line under the issue, he warned of how dangerous the tackling was.

In particular, he drew attention to the first-minute tackle by Jonny Gray which he said could have done serious damage to Murray's knee. Gray's Scotland colleague Josh Strauss also angered Murray with a later tackle. The duo are two of 16 Glasgow players in Cotter's squad for the Six Nations and both are likely to be involved at Murrayfield on Saturday week.

"What happened in that game is probably done and dusted now," Schmidt said.

"It was fairly public that there was dissatisfaction and I totally understand Conor being disappointed with how it happened. You can't charge a ball down from the blindside, you have got to go through the standing leg and the potential for injury there is clearly evident."

"You only have to see how Conor just managed to lift his foot in that first 25 seconds, otherwise if his foot is anchored he's going to blow his knee out, potential ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), MCL (medial), the whole shebang.

"It is the past. It will be incredibly intense, incredibly combative but I certainly don't anticipate anything like that happening."

Cotter, however, disagreed with Murray's assertion that Glasgow's actions were premeditated.

"There was a discussion afterwards and some of it went to the press," he said. "I've talked to the coaches and the players and it was not a deliberate tactic to injure Conor Murray. He is a key member of the team, as any half-back or decision-maker is, so there was pressure applied on him at certain parts of the game.

"It was unfortunate what came out in the press. There will be pressure applied on players, but all done within the laws of the game."

Irish Independent

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