Murphy: Nothing beats thrill of playing

Geordan Murphy still togs out, of course. The former Ireland full back is a familiar sight on the training fields at Leicester, where he coaches now.

Murphy: Nothing beats thrill of playing

Just don’t pretend it’s the same as playing.

“It’s different, obviously, and anyone who says they don’t prefer playing is lying,” he said yesterday.

“I’m starting at the very bottom of the ladder. I’ve played a lot of rugby but this is very different, though the coaches, Richard Cockerill and Paul Burke, are very helpful and I feel I’m learning.”

He’s not the only recently-retired player who’s coaching though. Think Anthony Foley or Ronan O’Gara.

“I think it’s something you have to apply yourself to,” says Murphy. “You could throw Simon Easterby into the mix there as well with Scarlets.

“It’s good to see guys you played with doing well in coaching, though someone like Anthony, who I’d have played with at the start of my career, getting a big role with Munster would also encourage you.

“Seeing that you’d feel that if you work hard yourself you might get a chance later as well.”

O’Gara is on record as having to recognise that he couldn’t, as a coach, fall in with the players for laps any more. Has Murphy had that flash of realisation?

“All of us who played realise that while the mind is still willing, very willing, unfortunately the body gets in the way.

“Towards the end of last season my knee was getting stiff and sore and really starting to curtail me, so if I ever get the thought, ‘I can still do this,’ I just have to jog or run around a bit and the reality hits home.

“Did that make the decision to retire easier? I turned 35 at the end of last season and thought about going for another year, but I felt I didn’t want to be that player, just hanging in there. You have to realise when you’re not the player you were at your prime.”

Leicester’s a rugby club that’s often seen as having a culture all its own, of course.

“I certainly think some of the Irish provinces would identify with us here,” he says.

“Certainly Munster supporters would have had a great time at any games here. Leicester would be a family-oriented club and would strive to keep the sense from the amateur era that the families come in and socialise with the players, all together, after games.

“Also, hard work and humility are certainly values we try to instil in players and that might be part of the reason some people like us.”

He’ll line out in the Stuart Mangan charity game this evening, Ireland v England (Twickenham Stoop, 7.45pm) though the dodgy knee may curtail those flying runs. Then it’s Saturday, and England.

“As a former full-back I’m looking forward to seeing the Mike Brown-Rob Kearney battle. Elsewhere Danny Care is a crucial player for them and Owen Farrell is improving all the time.

“It’s going to be tough in Twickenham but we’re due a result there.”

* Geordan Murphy announced that the Guinness Plus App is giving rugby fans the opportunity to win an Epic Reunion in France. Guinness, A Proud Partner of Irish Rugby and the RBS 6 Nations, will fly the winner and three of their mates home from anywhere in the world for a VIP trip to Paris to see Ireland take on France at the Stade de France. The exclusive trip includes two nights’ accommodation in the team hotel, match tickets and special appearances from the Irish camp. For a chance to win fans simply need to ‘check-in’ to their local participating pub before 11pm on match day for Ireland v England tomorrow.

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