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Murphy: I'm close to calling it a day

FLYING full-back Geordan Murphy may have played his last game for Ireland after announcing that he will be considering international retirement ahead of the RBS Six Nations.

The Leicester Tigers skipper made two appearances for Declan Kidney's men in the World Cup raising his number of caps to 72.

The 33-year-old Kildare man has not made a definitive decision on his future but will in the near future.

"I haven't made a concrete decision yet but I'm heading that way (retirement)," said the 33-year-old full-back.

"I spoke to (Ireland coach) Declan Kidney at the end of the World Cup.

"I'm weighing up my options and I'll probably make a call on it just before the Six Nations."

Murphy made his debut in June 2000 in the USA and unlike most of his Irish colleagues has always been based abroad.

Uncertainty surrounds the inter-national careers of several other Irish stars, such as Brian O'Driscoll, Ronan O'Gara and Paul O'Connell, but Murphy believes that it may be more difficult for others to retire as they are contracted directly to the IRFU.



Contracted

"I don't think many of them will hang up their boots," he said. "If you're based in Ireland, you're centrally contracted so it wouldn't be smart to retire."

Leinster's injured wing Shane Horgan, meanwhile, was beaming at the prospect of the beginning of another Heineken Cup in less than two weeks at the Twickenham launch of the competition yesterday, writes Des Berry.

"The Heineken Cup does have a special effect on people. Leinster and, I'm sure, all the other teams in the competition are just made for that scramble to get it again and keep it for another year," said Horgan.

The 'scramble' is also on for Leinster's fringe players and new signings to see if they have made a strong enough impression to force their way into the first team for Friday night's PRO12 clash with Munster in what will surely be the same team that will start the Heineken Cup Pool match in Montpellier.

Munster captain Paul O'Connell knows there is no better way to put the World Cup in the rear view mirror in front of close on 45,000 spectators at The Aviva Stadium.

"It's probably the highest level you can go in Europe. It's going to be a massive step up for us," said O'Connell.

Munster will have to deal with the fierce forward power of Heineken Cup finalists Northampton Saints for their first taste of Heineken Cup rugby the following week.

O'Connell sees Leinster as the perfect launchpad: "There are a lot of combinations that are new. So we need to get to know each other quickly."

Ireland scrum-half Tomas O'Leary and Munster's interim captain Peter O'Mahony both played their part at training today.


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