Wednesday 23 January 2019

'It is a great place' - Jordi Murphy hoping more players come north after making Belfast move

13 October 2018; Jordi Murphy of Ulster following the Heineken Champions Cup Pool 4 Round 1 match between Ulster and Leicester Tigers at Kingspan Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
13 October 2018; Jordi Murphy of Ulster following the Heineken Champions Cup Pool 4 Round 1 match between Ulster and Leicester Tigers at Kingspan Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Ireland back row Jordi Murphy admits that he was apprehensive for 'a minute or two' about moving to Belfast but is now loving life at Ulster in his first season at Kingspan Stadium.

Murphy decided midway through last season to leave his home province of Leinster after seven seasons, capping his last campaign with a Champions Cup/PRO 14 double.

The 27-year-old decided to move to Ulster in order to start regualrly in big games, and he has already shown his best form for the northern province, with back-to-back Champions Cup victories over the Scarlets this month leaving them in a good position in the tournament.

Speaking with Luke Fitzgerald on The Left Wing podcast, Murphy opened up on the reasons behind the move. Fitzgerald admitted that he was surprised when Murphy's move to Ulster was announced and said that in the past there had been a reluctance among some players about moving to Belfast.

However, while Murphy said he did think about it briefly, he ultimately decided that there were no compelling reasons not to move north.

"It definitely played on my mind for a couple of minutes but then I thought of the guys I have played with before who are from Ulster," Murphy said.

"They are great people and really good friends. I also had a chat with John Cooney and he just said how good the people were and how friendly they were. Players from other provinces may not have moved up there in the past but he was saying that he didn't see why anyone would ever have an issue. It is a great place. They love their rugby up here and they have some die-hard fans and that is what you want every week.

"It might have crossed my mind for a minute or two - 'I wonder why more people don't go up' - but then I thought about it and it didn't make sense to me."

IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora has tried to facilitate more player movement between the provinces, and Murphy hopes that his journey north will pave the way for others to do the same.

"I'd certainly hope so," Murphy said.

"I can only speak positively of it so far. There have been new coaches and new players who have come in with me, and it has been great that we have been able to do it together. Everyone has been so good to me and welcomed me with open arms. They had a tough time last year but everyone has moved on from that."

Murphy wasn't the only new addition to Ulster last summer, with Dan McFarland arriving as the team's new head coach. The former Connacht, Glasgow and Scotland forwards coach is trying to implement an attacking style, according to his back row star.

"He wants to play an exciting brand of rugby, which is every player's dream," he said.

"We want to play quickly and be an ambitious team, not a team that just struggles through games and doesn't have an identity. We want to have an identity of our own and for people to watch us and say, 'that is some quality play from Ulster'. We want to challenge for trophies, which is one of the things that Ulster have been lacking. Dan has come in and set the standards really high."

Subscribe to The Left Wing, Independent.ie's Rugby podcast, with Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery for the best discussion and analysis each week. From in depth interviews with some of Irish rugby's biggest stars to unmatched insights into the provinces and the national team, The Left Wing has all your rugby needs covered.

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