IT HAS been a whirlwind few months for new Munster signing Johne Murphy.
Murphy, who is in line to appear in Munster’s Magners League opener against Aironi in Cork on Saturday, had hardly been given time to consider how he would cope with leaving behind a host of friends at Leicester Tigers and parking some great memories than he was named in the Irish team to meet the Barbarians at Thomond Park on June 4.
A further bonus was being included in Declan Kidney’s Irish squad to tour New Zealand and Australia, a trip on which he appeared again in the Irish shirt against the New Zealand Maori.
Delight was tempered with disappointment at Ireland losing both games but there was a still a sense of satisfaction that he made the tour and now, just a short few weeks on, he hopes to take only positives from the experience.
“It was a huge opportunity for me and I learned a lot,” Murphy said. “Hopefully, I will take it a stage further and keep on playing at a level high enough to stay in contention in the future.”
The move to Munster will, he hopes, give him that window of opportunity. Although there will be many things he will miss about Leicester – the friends, the family atmosphere in the club, and the consistently high level of rugby he enjoyed in his five years in England – he now awaits a new challenge.
Murphy believes he made the right decision to come south when both Leinster and Ulster also showed interest in bringing him back home to Ireland. The Rathangan, Co Kildare, native went to Newbridge College and played a couple of years with Lansdowne before Geordan Murphy played a part in organising a trial at Welford Road.
He was offered a contract after three weeks and five years on, Murphy now brings a wealth of experience.
With Premiership medals, Murphy is unique in the Munster squad but some of his new colleagues have what he craves: Heineken Cup and Magners League silverware.
A winger or full back by choice, Murphy has also played at centre and it was in the number 13 slot that he made his debut against Gloucester last Friday. “I’d played only a handful of games for Leicester there,” he said “On the Tuesday before the game there was a very interesting defence session when I had to make judgement calls and try to pick out the right guy (to tackle). Then Doug Howlett just told me to trust my instincts and he suggested that I’d pick the right guy 95% of the time, so I just got on with it, and in the game I felt fairly comfortable.”
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