Murray eager to prove he has earned his place on the big stage
IT'S been seven caps and 318 minutes of international rugby since Conor Murray came on the scene. Bordeaux against France in the World Cup warm-ups was the scene of his first appearance for Ireland and he would do enough to secure a place on the plane to New Zealand.
Tonight's encounter represents the Limerick man's fourth consecutive start and his first in the Stade de France and even in his brief international career, he feels he has come a long way.
"We lost that game, but I got on and after a few minutes felt comfortable in the game and hopefully that will happen again," he said. "We were in a position to win that game in the summer as well, so we'll take a lot of confidence coming into the tonight's clash, we're definitely here to get a result.
"Hopefully, with the games I've played in, I'm nearer to getting rid of that (inexperienced) tag. I've played in a good few big games lately, so I'm looking forward to not having that inexperienced tag over my shoulders."
France were forced into a switch at No 9 with Morgan Parra promoted to start due to Dimitri Yachvili's injury. Former Leicester player Julien Dupuy is on the bench, meaning there is no sign of Jean-Marc Doussain who, bizarrely, made his only international appearance to date in the World Cup final against New Zealand.
"I don't really worry about the other No 9 too much, I find I don't come into contact the No 9 in the game except when I'm standing beside him in the scrum.
"Maybe Parra runs the game a bit differently than Yachvili, but the French team's record is similar, regardless of which No 9 they have, they're going to play a similar style of play.
"Both are quality players so yeah, you have to keep an eye on both of them equally."
Kidney's selection is another vote of confidence for the Sexton-Murray axis which is seen as the long-term half-back pairing.
"We didn't get a lot of attacking ball last week, so that was frustrating. We spent a large part of the game defending, so hopefully this week we'll have a bit more ball and show what we're capable of doing attack-wise.
"I've been with Jonny since the summer and I've got to know him a bit better since time has gone on. We just didn't have enough of the ball to do the things we wanted to do last week."