Murphy is primed for a tough festive schedule
It’s been a pretty good season so far for Leinster’s Josh Murphy, who has made seven appearances for the province, one of those his European debut.
Coming on for those closing minutes in the heat of a tight battle against French Top 14 leaders Lyon is another major leap in the career of any young professional.
For Murphy though, it’s already in the past as there’s three interprovincial derbies coming up during the Christmas break which will demand the medicine student’s focus.
He wasn’t involved against Northampton Saints last weekend but, nonetheless, will have been a keen observer in the Monday morning review as he gears up for tonight’s run-in with Leinster’s closest challengers in PRO14 Conference A, Ulster.
“It’s brilliant to get such a good win at the Aviva. It makes the Monday morning that bit easier,” he says. “But we’re still keen to improve now and move on to Ulster very quickly for a big block of games coming up.”
The flanker or second row was removed early on in his last appearance, against Glasgow Warriors, due to injury and is looking forward to putting himself back on the front line tonight against an Ulster team who have matched Leinster’s form of late. There’s only one Christmas present he’s looking for this weekend – more points on the board.
“They’re right behind us,” he added. “And when it’s in the same conference as you it can be a big points switch.
“It’s a huge game really for the Conference. It would be very helpful to get a win.”
Derby season in the PRO14 is a highlight for rugby fans over the Christmas as the best that Ireland has to offer go toe-to-toe with each other in three weeks of fixtures.
The players relish this window every bit as much as the fans despite the impact it may have on bodies and minds.
Mentally, Leinster know the challenge that comes from playing your nearest rivals one after the other. They have prepared accordingly.
“I don’t think complacency would ever be a factor when you’re coming into three interpros against three teams that want to absolutely kill you,” Murphy explains.
“It’s just continually working on how we can get better and respecting teams. Ulster this week is our main focus. You can see how well they’ve gone for the start of the season in the PRO14 and the Champions Cup.”
“It’s really the basics and getting them so well nailed down that other teams can’t compete with us.
“It would be a generic answer but it’s attack, getting the basics, defence, making sure we’re winning collisions. We can only do that if we set up right in defence.”
Murphy will be hoping that a big few weeks can put him in the frame to add to those European minutes against Lyon when the Champions Cup comes back around again in the new year.