Tuesday 22 October 2019

Ireland coach Richie Murphy backs Andrew Conway and Jordan Larmour to thrive if called upon against Scotland

19 September 2019; Kicking coach Richie Murphy during an Ireland Rugby press conference at the Yokohama Bay Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Yokohama, Japan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
19 September 2019; Kicking coach Richie Murphy during an Ireland Rugby press conference at the Yokohama Bay Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Yokohama, Japan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

IRELAND assistant coach Richie Murphy says he is confident in Andrew Conway and Jordan Larmour’s ability to step up to the plate against Scotland.

The duo are on stand-by to start in the back-three if, as expected, Rob Kearney and Keith Earls are ruled out of the Yokohama clash. 

With Conway expected to play at full-back and Larmour on the wing and a forecast for high winds in the coastal Japanese city, the Scots will undoubtedly put their aerial abilities to the test.

"Extremely confident," Murphy said. 

"We picked 31 players that we feel can all do the job for us.

"If, for instance, Rob wasn't there, we'd be very happy with Jordan, he's got a lot of big-game experience.

"Bomber (Conway) has played back there as well, so if it is a case that Rob's not there, we'd be very happy with the guys.

"They understand the systems, they've been working in them for three-and-a-half years, Jordan since he's come into the squad. They should be very comfortable within the systems.

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"The weather's changing. It's very hard to know and we'll just have to keep an eye on it over the next few days. Two days ago, it looked like it was going to be the worst rain shower we've ever seen.

"Now, it's saying it will be dry. We'll have to wait and see. 

"I think everyone wants dry weather, no one really wants to play in the rain. We'll have to adapt, World Cups are all about adapting, whether that's in the team or what the conditions are or how a referee interprets a rule. You have to adapt all the time.

"No matter who Scotland play, they'll be fantastic.

"Finn (Russell) is an incredibly gifted footballer and very much plays with his head up. He's a real threat when he gets on the ad axis of the ruck and maul.

"His running down short sides, his kicking game, he's a running threat too. He's a massive threat for us and a guy we need to keep an eye on. A lot of stuff will happen in and around his area.

"In relation to the nines, a massive running threat and we've the sort of old maestro, the leader who positions them around the pitch with a good kicking game and good organisation. Whoever they pick, we'll have a little bit of a plan for that and go from there."

Despite a disrupted pre-season campaign, Murphy is expecting Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray to hit the ground running while he added that Joey Carbery is showing well since returning to full training.

And given the expected conditions, the senior half-backs will have a major role.

"I think the big thing is that everyone does their own role," he said.

"Everyone understands what we're trying to achieve in each area. The two boys, as half-backs, they're the guys who move the team around the park. It's slightly extra responsibility but it won't faze the lads. 

"Johnny's in really good form. Obviously, he's only had one game coming into the World Cup which is probably not exactly what he would have wanted. He would have wanted to play more. That's where he's at. He's in really good shape physically, mentally very hungry, and he's looking forward to a massive World Cup, as all our players are. He's in a really good place.

"Conor picked up that know earlier on in pre-season but he's bounced back really well. He looks sharp, his passing is good.

"There's a nice buzz around the two guys when they're training and they're leading within the group.

"Joey's done really well. It was obviously a tight turnaround time and the medical staff have worked really hard with him. His dedication to his rehab has been really good. He trained fully Monday, Wednesday and we're really happy with what we've seen. He's available this week.

"He hadn't played much rugby before the Italy match, he'd had a bit of a layoff and into pre-season from there. He's starting to build a bank of experience over the last while, getting more time at 10 in Munster over the last season, that was beneficial for him.

"The one thing I would say is that we'd be very happy with any three of our 10s, so Joey is back in the mix, which is fantastic."

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