From schoolboy stars to test match battles: David Pocock shares brilliant throwback picture with Conor Murray
Ireland and Australia played out a cracking three-game series over the last month but for two opposing players, it was merely a catch-up from earlier in their rugby careers.
Joe Schmidt's side secured a first test series win in Australia for 39 years with a 20-16 third-test victory in Sydney on Saturday, with a CJ Stander try and five Johnny Sexton penalties propelling Ireland to a memorable triumph.
Ireland and the Wallabies have played out a number of thrilling encounters since Schmidt took over the national team in 2013 and for two participants at the weekend, the latest installments provided a perfect opportunity to renew their friendship.
While star Australia flanker David Pocock and Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray were trying their best to beat each other this June, their relationship actually goes all the way back to their days as prodigious schoolboy talents.
Pocock, whose work at the breakdown during the series was a constant menace, toured Ireland with the Australian schools team back in 2005 and as fate would have it, stayed with the Murray's in Limerick, who were his host family.
Pocock and Murray were two of the top performers across the three games, and after Ireland's historic victory to clinch the test series, the Australia openside shared a brilliant throwback photo of the pair on social media.
Back then Pocock was a star player at Anglican Church Grammer School in Brisbane, where he played with future Wallabies star Quade Cooper on an undefeated schools team. Pocock, who was originally born in Zimbabwe before moving to Australia as a teenager, has won 68 international caps and is considered one of the best players ever to represent his country.
Murray's schoolboy career was similarly illustrious, with the Munster star a member of the St Munchin's squad - along with club and country team-mate Keith Earls - that won the Munster Schools Senior Cup in 2006.
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13 years on from their first meeting as teenagers - and with the duo now two of the sport's best players - they shared a nice moment in the dressing room after Saturday's third test, swapping jerseys and taking another picture to bring their relationship full circle.
And if Ireland and Australia continue their strong form, there is every chance that Pocock and Murray could go head-to-head once more at next year's World Cup in Japan.
In 2005 on the Australian Schoolboys tour of UK and Ireland we were billeted out with families in Limerick. The family I was billeted with: the Murrays. I don't think @ConorMurray_9 or I were thinking we'd go on to face each other in test rugby. Great to catch up after the game. pic.twitter.com/MRF9BRsQY0— David Pocock (@pocockdavid) June 24, 2018
Ireland's test series win this summer strengthens their hold on the world number two spot behind the All Blacks, and Joe Schmidt's goal will be to now lead the team to a first ever World Cup semi-final.
Were Ireland to make the final four after winning their World Cup pool, and if Australia were to do the same, then the two sides would renew acquaintances again in the World Cup semi-final in what would be a mouthwatering clash.