Wednesday 19 June 2019

Jordi Murphy's move to Ulster makes sense across the board

Jordi Murphy of Leinster is understood to have signed a two-year contract with Ulster. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Jordi Murphy of Leinster is understood to have signed a two-year contract with Ulster. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Seven into three simply does not work and, in the end, something had to give.

Over the last couple of years, Ulster have done their best to tempt some of Leinster's international back-rows to make the move north and now finally they have gotten their way.

Jordi Murphy is understood to have signed a two-year contract with the northern province, which will be officially confirmed by the end of the week, and it is a move that makes sense on every level.

Even with Jamie Heaslip out of action, Leinster have six Irish back-rows on their books. It is impossible to keep them all happy.

Throw Max Deegan into the mix, a certain international lying in wait, as is Caelan Doris and that's not to mention Josh Murphy who has already impressed for the senior team this season, and you begin to get a clear understanding of the logjam that currently exists at Leinster.

Ulster already attempted to lure Rhys Ruddock and Jack Conan to Belfast and while they also failed in a recent attempt with Jordi Murphy, it appears that the former Blackrock College student has had a change of heart.

How much of that is down to being left out of Ireland's original 38-man squad for the November internationals remains to be seen but Murphy certainly still has plenty to offer and is a smart bit of business from Ulster.

It's easy to forget that the 26-year-old started in the historic win over the All Blacks last year but the serious knee injury that he picked up in Chicago could hardly have come at a worse time.

Josh van der Flier and Dan Leavy have taken their opportunities in the 10 months that Murphy was on the sidelines, while Tommy O'Donnell had also forced his way back into the reckoning having been overlooked since last year's summer tour.

Marcell Coetzee has been an unquantifiable loss to Ulster and even though Murphy is not a like-for-like replacement, he is an upgrade on some of the back-row options currently available to Les Kiss.

Jono Gibbes clearly wants to bring more of a hard-nosed edge to the Ulster pack and having worked with Murphy during his time at Leinster, he will know what he is all about. The same can be said for Kiss and Ireland.

One of main briefs of David Nucifora, the IRFU's performance director, is to spread the wealth of talent across all four provinces and the amount of former Leinster players that will be in Belfast next year suggests that the Australian is doing just that.

"Obviously we can't get logjams in any one particular position, we have to make sure it fits across the country," Nucifora said in December 2015.

Murphy's career had been threatening to hit something of a crossroads in the coming year and he would have been an attractive position for clubs across the pond, but he is wise enough to know that he can still revive his Ireland career by making the move up north.

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