Youthful Murray not restrained by history

Conor Murray is not in the slightest bit worried that no team has yet won back-to-back RaboDirect Pro12 League titles.

Instead, the young Munster scrum-half is focused only on helping his side take one further step towards that achievement at the Liberty Stadium tonight by overcoming old rivals Ospreys in the play-off semi-final in the process. He believes the ‘impossible’ to be achievable, noting Munster could well overcome a series of injury problems through the guts, determination and skill of a new generation.

“There has been chat during the year that our squad is young, not experienced enough and not strong enough. There are a lot of people in here that wouldn’t think that to be true,” he said.

The youngster is, like the rest of the squad, hurting after a failure to qualify beyond the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup. A home game against Ulster was an ideal opportunity to propel the province forward but Murray believes it is time to move on.

“Obviously,” he said, “it hurt watching the two provinces in the semis two weeks ago but that is gone now. It is our fault that we lost against Ulster; it wasn’t their fault, so we can’t hold a grudge against them.

“Ultimately, they are provinces and it’s great to see them in the final, but we have to be fully focused on this and it would be a great tournament to win.

“Last year it gave us a huge boost at the end of the year. Obviously it brings players through, you gain great experience from these weekends, so it is crucial and it would be a great way to finish the year.”

There is a big mountain to climb, however, against an Ospreys side waving goodbye to many of their stars. Murray conceded: “It will be very tough. We know them quite well; we played them a lot last year and have already gone over there this year.

“It is quite a tough place to go and you’d imagine they’ll pull a better crowd than usual supporting them this time around. And with Shane Williams playing his last game at the Liberty — it probably will be — you’d imagine they’ll be well motivated as well.

“They like to throw it around, which is quite dangerous, and if we are anyway loose they can attack from anywhere and score tries from anywhere; we just have to look out for that.”

Unsurprisingly, Murray is hesitant to make a call on the Heineken Cup final but instead figures Connacht’s entry to next year’s competition is a huge plus for rugby in this country.

“It is brilliant for Irish rugby. If it benefits Irish rugby then it is great for everyone else,” he said.

“They can develop their team and squad in next year’s Heineken Cup. Another year in the competition will do them well.”


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