Wednesday 13 December 2017

Murray insists he wasn't knocked out in Glasgow

Conor Murray talking to the press in UL yesterday Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Conor Murray talking to the press in UL yesterday Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Conor Murray is at the centre of two storms while riding the crest of a wave.

He is in the form of his life, operating at a level that has him being talked of as the world-leading scrum-half and a Lions starter-in-waiting as he propels Munster back to the European knockout stages.

Yet, his head is the centre of an EPCR inquiry over the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) he underwent during Saturday's win over Glasgow Warriors, while his leg and the attention paid to it by the Glasgow forwards last weekend is another hot topic of conversation.

Many would go to ground in such circumstances, but instead the Ireland scrum-half decided to front up and address the issues directly.

Munster are preparing for a sold-out clash with French champions Racing 92 having secured their return to the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

The focus has remained on Murray's HIA however. He went down after a "mistimed" tackle on Tim Swinson and lay prone for a number of seconds before receiving treatment.

He carried on until the Munster medical team opted to call him ashore to check out the extent of the head injury he had incurred after watching television footage of the incident. Satisfied by the results, they allowed him to return and finish the game.


The television pictures suggested the player may have been knocked out, but Murray says he never lost consciousness and was "rattled" by the challenge that left him with a neck injury that has required further treatment.

After the game, he passed the HIA 2 test and then underwent further testing with the province's medical team on Monday. On Tuesday, he went to see Dr Brian Sweeney, a consultant neurologist at Cork University Hospital. He has been cleared for Saturday.

While he calmly articulated the steps he went through to ensure that he had not been concussed in the impact, he was more riled up by the way Glasgow went after his standing leg when he was box-kicking during a tempestuous game and accused the Scottish side of deliberately setting out to injure him.

Murray says he has no problem with the kind of targeting he normally receives, but draws the line at the what he perceived as deliberate attempts to cause serious damage to his joints.

Thankfully, the attempts failed and his head has been cleared. Before he can face Racing though he needed to clear the air.

"I just mistimed the tackle. I was rattled by it. I didn't lose consciousness," he said of the incident with Swinson. "I put my head on the wrong side and made contact with his elbow and just was a little bit dazed.

"Andrew Conway was beside me and I was talking to him, just saying, 'It's my neck, I just hurt my neck'. Which is what happened.

"Then it just blew up after the game. It's a topic everyone wants to talk about now and it's something that's constantly improving and evolving. People are trying to find holes in it.

"We followed every protocol above and beyond. I was in Cork last night with a neurologist, Brian Sweeney, just to make sure that he didn't suspect any concussion. We've gone through all of that.

"It was a big hit, I'm not trying to get away from that, and I got a bit of a rattle from it but I didn't lose consciousness, I followed everything, all my HIAs, talking to the physios, the doctors and the neurologist; all is well. I trained today fully, I feel fine.

"Everyone kept a close eye on me in case I felt tired, in case I slowed down. All of those signs that we're trying to follow and I felt perfect. I'm fit to play at the weekend.

"It's very dangerous when someone gets a bang on the head. We're really well-educated about that now.

"If I feel in anyway bad in the next couple of hours or days before the game, I'll know I'm not right and I'll say it to someone because it's not worth it in the long run. It's a really big issue, it's a dangerous issue and you understand why the likes of George North had to take an extended break, because it's your brain you're messing with.

"We all want to be brave and play on in the heat of the moment, but afterwards in hindsight and looking at your life post-rugby it's not worth the risk. So, we're aware of it.

"In slow-motion, it probably did look bad and in real-time as well because it was a mis-timed tackle by me. There was no malice or wrong-doing on Tim Swinson's part, but I think it's just a big issue and people are trying to take care of each other. Media-wise, you're highlighting it which is good because we're trying to improve it.

"The HIA is developing and we're all trying to work with the authorities and work with each other to improve it and protect ourselves. You don't want to play rugby and write yourself off by being silly and going out there with concussion, everyone's on the same page."

While he was measured on the topic of his head, the perceived deliberate targeting of his legs left him furious.

He believes that there is a pattern to the behaviour that has run through Munster's three clashes with Glasgow so far this season that has seen forwards throw themselves at the scrum-half's standing leg as he attempts a box-kick.

"I'm properly pissed off about that," he said. "I don't see any benefit in charging down someone's standing leg, I only see it as a danger or as a potential to get injured.

"I've no problem with people going after you but I just can't see a way of that being legal or any way that could lead to a charge-down or a tackle.

"The ball is long gone from my hands and it's really dangerous and it will end up with someone getting properly injured by it. It could be a cruciate and you're out for six to nine months and from an attempted charge-down?

"I just don't think it's fair. It's not safe."

Irish Independent

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