Conor Murray has revealed the “hurt” he felt over unfounded rumours he had failed a drug test earlier this season.
The Munster and Ireland scrum-half's season didn't get underway until late November due to a neck injury sustained during Ireland's summer tour to South Africa.
The decision by Murray and the IRFU to remain tightlipped on the issue resulted in a vacuum that some inevitably rushed to fill with speculation and innuendo.
Murray gave an interview last November in which he said he would take the very same course of action again if required – his silence was due to the delay in diagnosing precisely the nature of the injury – but he has opened up now on the effect those rumours had.
The 29-year was speaking at a motivational talk for members of Limerick's Defence Forces and admitted that both he and his family had found the loose talk that arose around his time away from the field as 'difficult'.
“The toughest part of this was the outside rumours that my friends and family would hear,” he was quoted in the Limerick Leader.
“It was 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."
Crucial in getting through such a difficult period, he explained, was the unwavering support of his Munster teammates.
"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 made his return to first-team action on November 25th for the province's Guinness PRO14 game away to Zebre.
He has featured five times since and will start away to Gloucester this evening in a crucial Heineken Champions Cup pool game.