Thursday 12 December 2019

Murray alive and kicking for Munster's Toulon clash

Munster's Conor Murray pictured during his lengthy kicking practice yesterday in Marseille's Stade Vélodrome ahead of today's Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulon. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Munster's Conor Murray pictured during his lengthy kicking practice yesterday in Marseille's Stade Vélodrome ahead of today's Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulon. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

John Fallon

Scrum-half Conor Murray went through a lengthy kicking practice routine at Stade Vélodrome in Marseille yesterday ahead of this afternoon's Heineken Cup semi-final showdown with champions Toulon.

Murray generated a great cheer from his team-mates during yesterday's captain's run when he landed a monster penalty from 60 metres.

However, Munster coach Rob Penney reported that he is no longer concerned about the fitness of replacement outhalf JJ Hanrahan, who had been hampered by a groin injury in the build-up.

Penney also confirmed that there are no late injury worries, although Andrew Conway and Paddy Butler travelled with the squad as cover. "Everyone has woken up today in good nick, so from that end we are in good shape," said Penney, who said he himself would love to play in the stadium, which is in the final stages of a €267m redevelopment.

"To stand out in the stadium, you just feel like getting the boots on and getting under way. It is going to be a fantastic stadium when it is completed. I couldn't imagine what it will be like in 12 or 18 months when it is full but this is going to be a special occasion. The ground looks a picture. The stadium itself is brilliant."

MUNSTER'S MAMMOTH TASK PAGES 8-9

Damien Varley, meanwhile, says leading Munster out this afternoon will be the proudest moment of his career. He added that the crowning glory would be to lead Munster into their fifth Heineken Cup final.

Varley also said his men believe they can cause a major shock in what is their seventh Heineken Cup semi-final in France, and 11th in all.

"To captain Munster at any stage is a huge honour," he said. "To captain Munster at this stage of the competition is a huge honour, very humbling considering the group that is in it. It is an exciting day for me and my family, but, captain or not, it doesn't take away from the task at hand. It is still a semi-final and that is the way it will be treated."

Toulon captain Jonny Wilkinson said the hosts would underestimate Munster at their peril, adding that they were fired up for an onslaught from the visitors.

"Wanting to win is not enough. We lost two or three games despite everyone giving everything they had. We know how tough Munster will be, we know their pedigree in this competition," he said.

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