Jordi Murphy can breathe a sigh of relief.
He survived the cut and made it back to Carton House yesterday as Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt narrowed down his extended squad of 46 to the 32 men he believes can get the Six Nations campaign off to a flying start.
For the uncapped Leinster back row, 22, that means a reward for his training effort last week and a 20-minute role off the bench as the Irish Wolfhounds defeated the England Saxons 14-8 at Gloucester last Saturday.
Murphy was one of 13 of that Wolfhounds matchday 23 called into Schmidt’s Six Nations squad for the opening two championship encounters against Scotland this Sunday and Wales six days later.
He replaced Munster’s impressive Tommy O’Donnell at openside flanker after an hour at Kingsholm and made his own mark as the Wolfhounds put in a gritty defensive shift to withstand a late Saxons rally. Now both he and O’Donnell will vie with Ulster’s Chris Henry for a place in Sunday’s Aviva Stadium clash with the Scots and the No. 7 jersey vacated by the injured Sean O’Brien. For now, Murphy was pleased to have got through last Saturday evening’s audition.
“I think that was one of the aims as well,” Murphy said. “Obviously first and foremost it was to win the game, but if you win the game you personally and the team look better.
“So it was definitely one of the goals as well to put the hand up and I think one to 23 were counted and hopefully everyone can give Joe a bit of a headache for this week.”
Murphy was proud of the way the Wolfhounds overcame a tough examination by the Saxons, particularly in the dying minutes as the English tried to claw back a 14-8 deficit with time running out.
“It was great to get a few minutes there at the end and it’s a great win for everyone. We worked hard during the week, the first time a lot of us have played together and I thought we gelled well and stuck it out there in the last few minutes when they put a bit of pressure on us.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved