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Jordi now in frame for call

'BE RELENTLESS'. It is apparently one of the on-wall Leinster mantras for this season, at least according to Jordi Murphy.

There is no one that better exemplifies the word than the Barcelona-born forward.

He has also absorbed the very-Kiwi attitude of being humble and playing down his thumping impact as the newest of the new in a long and winding queue of Irish back-row forwards, leaving time to point to the influence of his direct competition Dominic Ryan in the 16-8 defeat of Connacht on Saturday.

"I'm just happy to be getting a run of games under my belt," he said. "I thought it was a one-to-15 performance there and when the subs came on they did a great job as well – like Dominic Ryan's steal at the end was vital.

"He was just one of a number of players that came on and did a job for us, I just thought it was a great team effort overall."

Back-row exponent Murphy may have jumped to the front of the claimants for the Ireland squad ahead of the Six Nations next month on the basis of his scorching development.

Action

He had already been called into Camp Ireland over the Christmas period due to his delivery in the first-half of the season, his all-action style as a ball-carrier attracting plenty of positive attention.

Of course, Ireland boss Joe Schmidt knows all about what is lurking beneath the surface at Leinster and his forensic eye would throw up as many imperfections as strengths about any one individual.

The former Blackrock College – yes, another one – loose forward stepped into the boots of Seán O'Brien to provide another eye-catching performance against a remarkably physical Connacht.

The sweep of four points away from home on what could politely be described as a bad night for rugby was founded on a relentless approach to the contact area where Murphy delivered as well for his coach Matt O'Connor at openside as he had done against Ulster at number eight the previous weekend.

Murphy is following the line of form put out by his wing colleague Luke Fitzgerald, who rediscovered his golden touch, forcing his way back into international involvement in November.

And another Leinster wing – Dave Kearney – finally made his international debut against Samoa.

Fitzgerald was hit by an illness on Friday night forcing him out of the trip out West, Kearney promoted in his place.

He will be fit and ready to motor against Castres in the Heineken Cup next Sunday.

Schmidt himself has spoken in the past about, first, earning an opportunity and, then, taking it. The unfortunate shoulder dislocation to O'Brien had opened the door for Shane Jennings and Dominic Ryan to move up one in the rankings at Leinster.

Attritional

Instead, O'Connor chose to rest Jennings and move Murphy across from number eight and into seven, presumably because of his explosive go-forward and his experience, limited though it is, of playing the position.

As coach O'Connor indicated, the blood-and-guts attitude required at Connacht will form the template for what is most likely to be a similarly attritional duel at Castres.

Leinster will have to adapt to a hostile atmosphere and what could very well be a boggy surface at Stade Pierre-Antoine without their two most destructive ball-carriers in O'Brien and Cian Healy. This factor alone may tempt O'Connor to start with Murphy.

On a wider view at home, Leinster are firmly lodged second to Munster's rear view mirror, three points behind, one ahead of the Ospreys, in third, and three in front of Ulster.

It leaves Matt O'Connor in the pleasant position of going into January one position from the head of the PRO12 League and one better in their Pool in the Heineken Cup.


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