Monday 19 March 2018

Player Diary: Conor Murray

Conor Murray celebrates as referee Romain Poite awards the try to his team-mate James Cronin (hidden) last weekend. Murray says his first game back from injury all went according to plan – apart from the result (Sportsfile)
Conor Murray celebrates as referee Romain Poite awards the try to his team-mate James Cronin (hidden) last weekend. Murray says his first game back from injury all went according to plan – apart from the result (Sportsfile)

Conor Murray

The watt bike is one of the most painful inventions known to man.

On the back of a defeat in the Champions Cup it can sometimes be hard to refocus the mind, but with an immediate chance to reverse last Saturday's result there has be plenty of positivity around the camp this week.

From a personal point of view I didn't think it was all doom and gloom. Yes, we lost the game a huge home game in our season, but I felt there were times that we played really good rugby.

I've tasted a few defeats in my career, but this one felt different. The opening quarter was very good I thought, we stretched them and tested them defensively. We should have held on to the ball a bit more at times - I definitely kicked out a box kick which we got away with thankfully. But I honestly felt we were expressing ourselves very well with ball in hand.

Not to take anything away from Leicester and their win, but we leaked two very soft tries.

We knew it would be tough against them, but letting in those tries was very disappointing, considering how hard we had to work for our points.

For Mike Sherry's try I thought we played some brilliant rugby, but the mistakes that we made really cost us and they could have been avoided.


Saturday was my first game back after a month out and it went according to plan - apart from the result. It wasn't exactly a stress fracture in my foot that kept me sidelined, but it was a bone edema, something that could have fractured down the line.

It happened against Treviso in the first round when I got tackled from behind and my foot got caught under the guy. It was pretty painful so we got it scanned and the injury showed up.

I just had to be very careful coming back because it has happened that players have ended up breaking their foot if they come back too early.

It's always a bit worrying when you return; you are always half afraid of doing more damage, but it was really up to me. If it was painful I had to stop, but I did my rehab, looked after it, took it step by step and once it felt good I was able to get back.

I did a few running sessions the week before Leicester, I had no pain which was what the specialist was looking for. I kept my fitness up with a lot of work on the watt bike during my stint on the sidelines, but it's great to get the boots back on again.

The watt bike is one of the most painful inventions known to man. I enjoy the feeling about an hour afterwards, you know you've done a really good session, but it's a very tough session to do.

It's a stationary bike and whatever effort you exert on it it gives it back to you too. If you go at it hard even 10 minutes can be a killer. I've had some sessions where you end up getting physically sick afterwards, it's that tough - being on the pitch is a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable.

But no matter what work you do, match fitness is another thing altogether. The run-out was great, I felt good for about 70 minutes, but the legs deserted me at that stage. It was the right call to come off, especially when Tomás can offer so much coming off the bench.

This is the fifth week since my injury and the specialist gave me six weeks to be back. He did say it was the type of injury that might clear up after two weeks, so I'm bang on target really.

With other injuries you can keep your kicking eye in, but this one took some time for me to be comfortable.

I had my first serious kicking session in the captain's run on Friday and up until that point I was mainly focusing on getting back fit. I kicked the leather off the ball there and had no ill effects.

But it really does take a few session to get back in the groove. I really didn't feel like my kicking was 100 pc last weekend, and I think that was a bit of rustiness.

I was able to train all week this week so I'm happy that I'm in good shape now and will be back to my usual self on Sunday.

There is no denying that this was a big, big loss for us, but at the same time, as a group, we know we have to stick really tight together and believe that we can still qualify. We all know we can do it, but it has to start this weekend.

Preparation for Sunday began on Monday when we went down to Charleville for a review of the game. It's usually an interesting time when you look back at a defeat, but it was a really positive review.

Everyone was disappointed immediately after the game, but by the time of the review we were chomping at the bit to get out there again.

It's vital that we believe that we can do it. The last time I was in Welford Road was back in 2006 when I was there as a supporter when Munster won a pool match in the Heineken Cup, so maybe that's a good omen.

A negative week can really eat into your confidence and energy levels, so this week I think we have prepared well.

We know we'll have to pull something out of the bag and next Sunday we have an immediate chance to fix things.

We have only played two games at this point and with four games remaining are still in contention.

We really want to show how much we are hurting by putting in a big performance. If we can achieve that overall performance on Sunday we would be bang on track. It's a massive game for us and we had to give it everything.

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