Rumours about failed drugs tests hurt me, says Murray
Rugby star Conor Murray has admitted "crazy" rumours that he had failed a drugs test while out injured "hurt" both him and his family.
The Munster and Ireland player only recently returned to action after a mystery neck complaint kept him sidelined for almost five months.
The scrum-half (29) spoke about his time out injured during a motivational talk to members of the Defence Forces in Limerick this week.
When asked by Commandant David Slattery how he deals with the pressure of being in the public eye, Murray replied that he found his recent layoff difficult.
"The toughest part of this was the outside rumours that my friends and family would hear. Crazy stuff that I'd failed all sorts of drugs tests and they were just keeping it under wraps and letting me serve my ban. That kind of hurt a little bit," he said.
He was at Sarsfield Barracks in Limerick for the unveiling of a 'Wall of Champions' to honour the stellar sporting achievements of the 12th Infantry Battalion.
Murray - whose Munster side travel to Gloucester tonight - explained how he decided against disclosing details of his neck injury and said this meant the media "had nothing to feed off".
"They were guessing what was wrong, and thinking I'm going to have to retire. It's not nice hearing it for yourself, but then your family don't really know either. They are seeing second-hand information. It's quite tough," he told the troops.
Murray said the support of his Munster teammates kept him going during this difficult period.
"It was the unity of my team. Munster would hear the same rumours and on Monday morning they'd be slagging me about it, and make light of it straight away. Having a good team around you and a good head space is really important. It helps me," he added.
"You hear a lot of players saying they don't read the media or look at Twitter, but you can't avoid it. If you don't see it on your phone, your friends will say it back to you and it will affect you somehow."
Murray recently signed a new deal tying him to Munster and Ireland until 2022.
He gave almost an hour of his time between training sessions to speak to members of the 12th Battalion and help get its 80th anniversary year off to a flying start. And he admitted it felt "kind of weird" for him to be giving advice to front-line military personnel, given their contrasting careers. "I'm a sportsperson, and you're into the serious nitty gritty stuff," he acknowledged.