Monday 18 December 2017

Former Irish U-20 star poised for Super 15 debut

David Kelly

David Kelly

With the Irish emigrating in their thousands, Ruaidhri Murphy's story shouldn't seem that surprising.

Except that Murphy's arrival in Australia marks a sort of homecoming.

Prop Murphy spent 14 years growing up in Australia -- his family owns a Perth-based mining business -- but even he would admit that the majority of his rugby apprenticeship was spent in Ireland.

Yet there is a good chance that his swift progress under Jake White at the ACT Brumbies -- he benches for their Super 15 opener tomorrow -- could see him involved in a heart-rending tug-of-love as he contemplates life as a wannabe Wallaby.

He schooled at Castleknock College, played at an under-age World Cup in Dubai and won a Grand Slam with the U-20s in 2007 alongside Cian Healy, Felix Jones and Keith Earls.

Having spent three seasons in the Leinster Academy, he joined Exeter Chiefs two seasons ago, but now he finds himself under the tutelage of a World Cup-winning coach and beginning life as -- potentially -- an Australian international in the making.

"I was nearing the end of my second season with the Exeter Chiefs and was in negotiations with other clubs," he explains. "At the time I very nearly signed with London Wasps, but it fell through due to internal trouble.

"My agent had been approached by the ARU to discuss me coming to Australia.

"ARU officials then guided my move over and I initially played in the Queensland Rugby Championship hoping to earn a Super 15 contract.

"After a short time I got a call from Laurie Fisher asking me to attend a Brumbies end-of-season trial camp.

"On the second day of the camp, I sat down with Jake White and negotiated a Super Rugby contract."

It's been a whirlwind change of fortunes for Murphy in a side that, Wallabies trio Pat McCabe, Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander aside, is an extremely greenhorn outfit, led by rookie captain Ben Mowen.

Now 24, Murphy holds Australian and Irish passports, but to be available for Wallabies selection, he or his parents must have been born in Australia, or lived in the country for the past 36 months.

The ARU will ask the IRB to review their position in the hope that Murphy would be able to play for the Wallabies should he have a sparkling debut Super Rugby season.

"However, Ireland is, of course, still very close to my heart and in coming here, I have had to leave my family behind," he admits.

"So, it would be wrong of me to say I would never return. But for now, my only goal is to play good rugby for the Brumbies."

Irish Independent

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