Conor Murray has insisted the Ireland squad’s minds could not be further from the beach as they turn their focus towards Saturday’s series decider with Australia.
The days of Ireland’s campaign petering out at the final hurdle before the summer holidays kick in are long gone, the scrum-half feels and after a 26-21 second Test victory in Melbourne at the weekend, the chance to score a first series win over the Wallabies since 1979 is plenty incentive to keep the foot down for five more days of hard work.
“I feel like that,” Murray agreed. “Definitely, years ago that was the case with the 60-0 (to New Zealand) in Hamilton, that was my first summer tour (in 2012).
“That’s out the window, for whatever reason the mindset is different, players don’t start relaxing. We’re a really professional group, we’ll recover and prepare and look to turn up on Saturday in Sydney with a gameplan to win.”
This time a year ago Murray had not yet played the first Test for the British & Irish Lions against the All Blacks in Auckland but 12 months later, the Munsterman said he was still full of running on this tour Down Under.
“It’s flown. We’ve had fun while we’ve been down here, it’s a really good group to be involved with. Everyone gets on so well.
“The weeks fly, in between the games it flies, there’s no question of fellas being tired or not fresh, it’s an exciting place to be.
“It’s half the length of a Lions tour, people just get down to work and want to put their best foot forward. There’s a good buzz around.”
For the third summer in a row, Murray finds himself playing a series decider having lost one with Ireland to the Springboks in 2016, and drawn one with the Lions against the All Blacks in 2017.
“For a few lads who are in there now, myself included, we were in South Africa two years ago and it was really frustrating.
“To go down there and win a series would have been unbelievable, it was a great building process for the team at the time with a few young lads there, but that was the series we let slip. We were definitely in winning positions and, for whatever reasons, we came up short.
He added: “They’ll look at things they didn’t finish, things that didn’t go their way. They’re still building, they’re another week in camp together and it will be another standard of game next week. Hopefully we’ll recover really well again, prepare really well again and go for it. It’ll be a tough game. We’re hungry for a series.”
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