Monday 19 August 2019

Jordi Murphy hoping his versatility secures him a place on the plane to Japan

Jordi Murphy. Photo: Sportsfile
Jordi Murphy. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Jordi Murphy didn't quite have it all his own way when he started against Italy during the Six Nations, which was indicative of a general malaise that ran through the entire team that day in Rome.

Having moved to Ulster in search of more game time in his preferred openside position, Murphy found himself shifting to No 8 – a role that although he had played plenty of times in the past, wasn't as familiar as perhaps it once was.

Murphy has been an instant success up north, with a host of outstanding performances that helped Ulster get back on track.

You could forgive the 28-year old then for hoping that he might get a shot in the number seven jersey when Italy visit Dublin tomorrow, but Joe Schmidt made it clear from early on in pre-season that he wanted to have another look at Murphy at No 8.

On one hand, he may be missing out on a chance to stake his claim as an openside with Tommy O'Donnell instead getting a chance to do so, but on the other, Murphy will once again prove his versatility, which as we all know will be crucial when it comes down to selection for the final 31-man squad.

"It's a discussion I have defintely had with the coaches," the former Leinster player explained.

Ireland manager Joe Schmidt. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland manager Joe Schmidt. Photo: Sportsfile

"Look, I am getting an opportunity and I just want to make the most of that.

"It's great to have that versatility on my side, so hopefully I can impress out there this weekend and if I get another opportunity in the weeks to come, I might get to play somewhere else as well.

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"If that is what they want from me, versatility, and it gets you a ticket to go over, then I am obviously happy to be able to offer that.

"Joe said to me the last day that he knows I have been playing seven a lot last season but that I would playing this weekend and my reaction to that was I just want to play.

"I have played a lot of professional games at this stage and a lot of them have actually been at 8 – probably at the start of my career a bit more.

"It's defintely something I always tip away at. Maybe not as much this year with Ulster because I was playing a lot at 7.

"Look, if you have someone like Marcell Coetzee, I would picking him at 8 as well. In the last few weeks, I have defintely had my eyes set on this game and I had a feeling I was going to be playing 8, so I have been working on that defintely – the relationship with the nines and things like that."

On the back of that excellent season with Ulster, there is a renewed hunger about Murphy and having made the World Cup squad four years ago, he has his sights firmly set on travelling to Japan.

"I don't know if I was more confident (coming into pre-season), but I suppose I was a bit more emotionally mature this summer," he added.

"I looked after myself a bit better knowing it is a really good opportunity. Obviously I was lucky enough to go to the last World Cup and to be in a position now to, fingers crossed, be able to go to a second one would be incredible."

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