Conor Murray’s abilities as a world-class scrum-half have long been recognised and the Munster and Ireland star’s box-kicking skills have been a primary reason for the praise regularly heaped on him.
Yet the pre-eminent number nine will be the first to admit that the quality of the kick is only as good as the chase that follows it and that is where Munster’s back-three comes in.
As Munster prepare to face Racing 92 in Sunday’s quarter-final, full-back/wing Andrew Conway dissected the art of the chase and the importance of a great understanding with his scrum-half.
“High balls are such a massive part of back-three rugby now,” Conway said.
“In the northern hemisphere there is so much kicking, there is kicking from 9, kicking from 10 and you are either kicking long to gain field position or you are kicking high to compete.
“We have worked hard on it for a long, long time, so we probably have the edge on a few other teams who are only starting to develop their game now.
“There are definitely teams who are getting better and teams who are making it tougher for us to chase with the escorting that goes on and with the small details that make kick-chase, they don’t just let you run and it is me versus him, in who can jump higher and catch the ball. With someone like Conor there it goes quite high, so you have time to navigate yourself around the opponents who are trying to make your line tougher.
“There is an understanding there (with Conor). I am standing next to him, I know what the call for a kick is and I know he is going to put it up. I do practice with him two or three times a week on it, so there is definitely an advantage in knowing the flight of the ball.
“He pretty much puts it wherever he wants every single time, so I know in and around where it is going to be two or three metres one way or the other, left or right, up or down.
“It’s the same with Duncan (Williams), I am getting to know James Hart and the flight of his ball. Repetition is so important with these things and I think you will see it, the guys who are together and practising, have a lot of minutes together and I am going after balls lads have put up for me hundreds of times at training. You only see one at the weekends, but it helps.”
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