Murphy: We’re not looking in bad shape

Ireland’s Geordan Murphy misses tomorrow’s trip to the Aviva, but plenty of his Leicester colleagues have a difficult experience at the new stadium to call on. Simon Lewis reports

SO who has the psychological advantage? Will Leinster’s international contingent relish a quick-fire return to the scene of their last Test triumph. Or will Leicester’s English contingent be gunning for revenge after their Grand Slam party was spoiled last month?

Geordan Murphy, capped 69 times by Ireland and a double Heineken Cup winner with the Tigers in 2001 and 2002, will miss the clash of former champions while he recovers from a broken foot, but believes his Premiership pacesetters will be the underdogs. “Going to Leinster will be a huge challenge and they will be odds-on favourites in Dublin with a team full of quality players who are coming off the back of doing superbly well in the last game of the Six Nations,” said Murphy.

“We will have our work cut out but we’re not looking in bad shape. However, it won’t be a case of Leicester’s forwards against Leinster’s backs. We have got backs to compete with anyone and Leinster have a set of forwards who can do likewise.

“Having Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings back has helped bring huge intensity to their game, they have the same front row that played against England a couple of weeks ago, they have Nathan Hines as well as Ireland pair Jamie Heaslip and Sean O’Brien.

“It’s a tremendous pack and perhaps that has been overlooked because there has always been so much focus on the likes of Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy and Isa Nacewa. Leinster have class right across the board so it will be interesting to see what style they bring on the day. I was in Dublin for Ireland against England but this is a different game altogether.

“I don’t think either team need any more motivation than knowing it’s the quarter-final of the Heineken Cup. It’s very disappointing to miss out on these big occasions and games against Leinster are extra special for me so I’m even more gutted to miss out. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when the crowd gets going and you’re sat on sidelines but fingers crossed that I will be back before the end of the season.

“I have an operation on April 12 to take the pins, screws and wires out of my foot then it’s all about how quickly I can recover.

“If I’m jogging in April then I’ll have the opportunity to train with the rest of the squad and if I’m sprinting by mid-May then hopefully I could make the end of the season.”

That could include a sixth Heineken Cup final appearance for Leicester at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, May 21 “one of my favourite places to play rugby, the atmosphere is amazing and I’ve enjoyed my games there.”

But there is a lot of rugby to be played yet.

Home games key to success

THE 56 Heineken Cup quarter-finals have ended with the home team winning 43 times and the away team going through to the semi-finals on 13 occasions — an average of less than one away win per season. It means almost 77% of the quarter-finals have gone with home advantage with four-times champions Toulouse accounting for seven of those home wins, Munster six and Leicester Tigers five. Munster are the only team to have won three away quarter-finals, at Stade Jean-Bouin against Stade Francais Paris (2002), at Welford Road against Leicester Tigers (2003) and at Gloucester in 2008.


7 — Toulouse; 6 — Munster; 5 — Leicester Tigers, Munster; 3 — Stade Francais, Biarritz; 2 — Llanelli Scarlets, Wasps, Cardiff Blues, Leinster

1 — Brive, Bath, Pau, Ulster, Perpignan, Colomiers, Northampton, Gloucester, Castres, London Irish, Saracens


Munster (16-14 v Stade Francais Paris, 2002); Munster (20-7 v Leicester Tigers, 2003); Munster (16-3 v Gloucester Rugby, 2008)

Toulouse (26-18 v Dax, 1997)

Brive (25-18 v London Wasps, 1998)

Scarlets (27-10 v Bath Rugby, 2002)

Perpignan (26-19 v Llanelli Scarlets, 2003)

Biarritz Olympique (27-10 v Llanelli Scarlets, 2004)

Leicester Tigers (29-13 v Leinster, 2005)

Bath Rugby (15-12 v Leicester Tigers, 2006)

Leinster (41-35 v Toulouse, 2006)

Northampton Saints (7-6 v Biarritz Olympique, 2007)

Leinster (6-5 v Harlequins, 2009)

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