Wednesday 19 December 2018

Taylor: We'll target Murray within the law, like we've always done

Ireland's Conor Murray of Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland's Conor Murray of Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Scotland will target Conor Murray as they look to nullify the threat of the Ireland scrum-half, but they insist that they will do so within the laws of the game.

Murray was incensed when Glasgow appeared to target his standing leg during Munster's Champions Cup win in January of last year.

The 28-year-old fumed that the tactic was "dangerous" and that he was "properly p***ed off" about it.

Glasgow, however, always claimed their innocence and were never found guilty of any wrong-doing.

Gregor Townsend was the Glasgow coach that time, and now as he comes face-to-face with Murray again, there have been fears that Scotland may adopt a similar ploy.

However, their defence coach Matt Taylor, who was also Townsend's assistant at Glasgow, is adamant that they will not break the rules in attempting to lessen Murray's influence.

"Listen, I think their 9 and 10 are the best two players in the Ireland team," Taylor said.

"For us to be successful against them, we have to put them under pressure. That means charge-downs. That's what we're going to do. We'll do it within the law, like we've always done.

"Personally, I think there was a lot made of it when there was not much in it. We did everything within the laws, both last year and referring to the Glasgow game, which I was part of.

"You know, we never got penalised in that game. We never got cited. So I think it was a bit of a storm in a teacup, to be honest."

Ireland are likely to point out the issue to referee Wayne Barnes, who is sure to monitor Scotland's tactics, particularly when Murray box-kicks.

While Taylor admitted that Ireland's game-plan was effective, he appeared to echo Warren Gatland's sentiments that Schmidt's side are one-dimensional.

Schmidt has been angered by that suggestion in recent weeks and Taylor added fuel to the fire by saying: "There will be moves that they're very good at. But it will be keeping within a system.

"I think, for me, Ireland are ruthlessly efficient and they're very good at their game-plan.

"They've been under Joe Schmidt for a number of years and they're pretty confident with how they play.

"They squeeze you and they hold the ball for long periods of time, they play a good territory game. So, listen, they've got a good game.

"Our game is slightly different in that we might spread the ball a bit more than they do.

"But you've got to give credit to Ireland. I think they're exceptional with how they play their game, how they put teams under pressure.

"That's why they've won the Championship twice in the last five years.

"When they come at you, you have to front up. If you're constantly going backwards, they will just keep the ball. So you've got to be in their faces.

"You've also got to have good back-field coverage because they kick very well.

"Both Murray and (Johnny) Sexton are exceptional at reading the cues and playing a kicking game, so they can squeeze you that way.

"When we get hold of the ball, we want quick ball, we want to exploit space."

Irish Independent

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