Beirne hails Murray impact as focus turns to Castres double-header
It didn't take Tadhg Beirne long to endear himself to the Munster faithful following his summer arrival but after another powerful display on his return from international duty, he is keen to strengthen their Champions Cup standing against Castres this weekend.
Beirne (26) was one of seven Ireland internationals to come back into the Munster team for their convincing eight-try victory over Edinburgh last weekend but Conor Murray, who missed the November games, has impressed the former Leinster and Scarlets forward.
Saturday was their first chance to play together for Munster following Murray's injury lay-off and Beirne thinks the best scrum-half around will make a huge impact in the weeks ahead.
"Look, everyone knows Conor is probably the best nine in the world, so he brings his own element to it," said Beirne, who has scored one try in his seven Munster starts.
"His box-kicking is outstanding, his speed of play is outstanding, you could see there he even went to the wing at the end and he just fitted in like it was nothing, so credit to him and his ability.
"I think for everyone who came back from international duty, I thought we fitted in really well and put in a good performance.
"Boys are still fighting for positions. It just lifts the standards in training, especially the quality of the likes of Murray and (Chris) Farrell, Tyler (Bleyendaal) and all those boys coming back, even Jaco (Taute), so it just lifts the standards in training.
International Rugby Newsletter
"The better training week you have the better chance you have of playing really well on the weekend, so that is what we get from those guys coming back."
This time last season Munster picked up back-to-back wins over Leicester Tigers to give themselves a great chance of reaching the Champions Cup quarter-finals, but they also faced Sunday's opponents Castres in that pool.
A 48-3 win at Thomond Park ended the Top 14 side's hopes of progression in the final game but since then they have won the French title and are on the fringes of the play-offs there this season.
Beirne is expecting a huge test from Castres this weekend and he wants to see Munster build on their win over Gloucester and draw with Exeter in round one.
"This club gets very excited when it comes to Europe. We have put ourselves in a really good position from the first two games, we certainly need to keep that up.
"We have two massive games in a row against a really strong French outfit. They are still in it, so they are hoping to get a scalp off us. So we are looking forward to it."