Conor Murray on ‘dangerous’ Glasgow approach - 'I’m properly pissed off about that'

Conor Murray has hit out at Glasgow’s “unsafe” and “very dangerous” targeting of his standing leg as he kicked from the base of rucks during Munster’s Champions Cup victory at Scotstoun last Saturday.
Conor Murray on ‘dangerous’ Glasgow approach - 'I’m properly pissed off about that'

Murray has also been at the centre of a controversy concerning Munster’s treatment of his suspected head injury during the same game, following a clash of heads with the Warriors’ Tim Swinson. The 27-year-old has been cleared to play this Saturday’s Pool 1 finale against Racing 92 at Thomond Park, having proved symptom-free of concussion, following what he believes was medical care “above and beyond” World Rugby’s Head Injury Assessment guidelines, though Champions Cup organisers EPCR have convened an Untoward Incident Review Group to investigate the province’s procedures in dealing with the issue.

Yet, the scrum-half believes he escaped a serious knee injury in the wake of what he perceived as Glasgow’s targeting of him as he attempted to execute box kicks from the back of rucks.

Murray was incensed by a late hit on his standing leg in the 18th minute of the game — won 14-12 by Munster — by No8 Josh Strauss, demanding action be taken by a touch judge immediately after the hit. Munster assistant coach Jerry Flannery revealed during an in-game interview with Sky Sports that the officials, led by referee Luke Pearce, had been asked to keep an eye on the Warriors tactics regarding the scrum-half.

Four days on, Murray presented himself for scheduled media interviews and was calm and measured, but still angry.

“I’m properly pissed off about that,” Murray said. “I don’t see any benefit in charging down someone’s standing leg, I only see it as a danger or as a potential to get injured.

“I don’t think it’s a good tactic. You could put another label on that type of tactic, but they did it to us at Thomond Park [in the European tie on October 22]. They got our scrum-half Te [Aihe Toma] with it in the league game [at Scotstoun on December 2] and they almost got me a couple of times.

“So, luckily, my leg came out of the ground and I managed to fall over, but if my leg stayed in the ground — especially in that (4G) surface — you’re looking at syndesmosis [joint damage], you’re looking at cruciate [ligament damage].

“I’m not blaming the players. I don’t know who told them to do it, but it’s dangerous. It’s very dangerous and, thankfully, I didn’t get injured, but if I had have been injured, I would have been going on more of a rant.”

? Murray’s remarks come two months after Keith Earls became engaged in a war of words with Glasgow hooker Fraser Brown following the Munster wing’s sending-off at Thomond Park for a tip tackle and they are sure to ramp tensions at Test level, with the scrum-half set to face Strauss and several Glasgow Warriors players in the Scotland team on February 4 at Murrayfield in Ireland’s opening Six Nations fixture.

Yet, Murray made it clear that while he accepted opposition teams would target players, not least when he faced New Zealand twice last November, Glasgow had crossed a line as the only team to target his standing leg.

“I’ve no problem with people going after you; you know, ‘I’m trying to rattle you’ and all that, but when the only... I just can’t see a way of that being legal or any way that could lead to a charge down or a tackle. The ball is long gone from my hands and I just think it’s really dangerous and it will end up with someone getting properly injured by it.”

Murray feels more could be done to prevent the tactic by addressing it before matches.

“We chatted about it and they were aware of it,” he said of the match officials. “My issue would be, it was after the first one and they were made aware of it before that.

“There’s so much going on in the game that something like that needs to be just looked at outside the game, before the game has even started, in the lead up to the game, and make sure things like that are outlawed in the game, because they have enough on their plate, as well, but it is in the best interest of the players for something like that to be looked at.”

As for his clash of heads with Swinson, Murray said he made a “mistimed tackle” on the Glasgow lock, but did not lose consciousness after the contact, but stayed down because he had been “rattled” and hurt his neck. He has since passed all four Head Injury Assessments required under World Rugby guidelines, as well as having consulted Cork University Hospital neurologist Dr Brian Sweeney on Monday evening.

“We followed every protocol above and beyond,” he said. “I was in Cork last night with a neurologist, Brian Sweeney, just to make sure that he didn’t suspect any concussion. We’ve gone through all of that. It was, literally, a bang. A badly timed, bad technique in the tackle.

“It was a big hit, I’m not trying to get away from that, and I got a bit of a rattle from it, but I didn’t lose consciousness, I followed everything, all my HIAs, talking to the physios, the doctors and the neurologist; all is well. I trained today fully, I feel fine.

“Everyone kept a close eye on me in case I felt tired, in case I slowed down, all of those signs that we’re trying to follow, and I felt perfect. I’m fit to play at the weekend.”

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