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Heaslip makes World Rugby short-list as Murphy ruled out for the season


Ireland’s Jordi Murphy being carried off at Soldier Field. Photo: AP

Ireland’s Jordi Murphy being carried off at Soldier Field. Photo: AP

Ireland’s Jordi Murphy being carried off at Soldier Field. Photo: AP

While Jamie Heaslip had his best day in green dressed up with a World Rugby player of the Year nomination, Jordi Murphy has been given the hard news that his season is over.

These are the harsh, unforgiving realities of sport. One minute you are on top of the world; the next you are flat on your face. Flanker Murphy tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee to be hit with six to nine months of rehabilitation.

Worse again, it came about from what was an innocuous off-the-ball twist of his knee on the surface at Soldier Field.

In the wider scheme of things, Leinster and Ireland are blessed with back row options.

Coach Joe Schmidt has reintroduced Paddy Jackson into a squad of 39 which was widened by Leinster's Dan Leavy, Connacht's Niyi Adeolokun and Tiernan O'Halloran and Connacht's Dave Kilcoyne, Jack O'Donoghue and Darren Sweetnam.

There is a degree of sensitivity over the position of Jackson. Schmidt will have to decide whether to parachute the Ulster man in over the head of Joey Carbery or whether Leinster's newest sensation has done enough to merit his first start against Canada.


Depending on how Schmidt approaches the next assignment, there could be a host of new caps.

The temptation must be to rest most, or all, of those who toiled from the start in Chicago.

Then there is the conundrum on what is best to do about the returning Seán O'Brien and Peter O'Mahony.

World Rugby listed Heaslip beside All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Dane Coles and England's Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola yesterday to contend for the highest individual accolade in the game. The 32-year-old Naas man is the oldest nominee out of the half-dozen and will find out his fate at an awards ceremony in London on Sunday.


He was short-listed once before in 2009 when Richie McCaw made off with the award.

"He is vice-captain to Rory. He is one of the real leaders on the team," commented Ireland Team Manager Mick Kearney.

"He's grown into a leadership role over the last couple of years in superb fashion, I would say.

"He is an incredible example to not only the younger players but to everybody in the squad in the way he looks after his body.

"There is his nutrition, his rest his recovery. It is absolutely at a world-class level.

"He turns up for work every day. He turns up for work every Saturday. He plays 80 minutes.

"That is absolutely invaluable, that you know you have somebody you know is going to go out and play 80 minutes consistently.

"Yeah, he's a great player and he is fully deserving of that honour."