Belfast Telegraph

Murphy is eyeing Ireland recall after battling to get back into his groove

By Cian Tracey

At a time when players playing below their optimum fitness level is increasingly coming under the microscope, Jordi Murphy's admission that after the World Cup he was operating at 60 per cent would go some way to explaining his dip in form.

On the back of a couple of impressive seasons for Leinster, Murphy became a regular in Joe Schmidt's Ireland squad but after a difficult outing in the World Cup warm-up defeat to Wales, he endured a difficult few months.

It was a tough period in the 25-year-old's career but his performances in recent months suggest that he is nearing a return to his best form.

Injuries to Sean O'Brien and Josh van der Flier have not only opened the door for Murphy at Leinster - who host Ulster in the PRO12 semi-final tomorrow - but with a tour of South Africa just around the corner, he is eyeing a return to the international fold.

Murphy was left out of Ireland's Six Nations squad and he admitted that it was the most difficult period of his career.

"The initial call, when it came from Joe, I had a feeling it was coming anyway. I didn't feel I was going well," he conceded.

"I was very disappointed. I sat down with my old man and had a chat about it. I just knew there was no point in sulking. I had to move on.

"I suppose players go through a few lows. I haven't had a very long career up until now and haven't really had any (lows) so it was a strange one for me.

"It was pointed out quite a lot. It was one of those things. I was trying hard to get to that level I know I can be at but was just finding it a bit difficult.

"People around me like Josh and Rhys (Ruddock) were playing really well. It was disappointing not to get to that level."

Looking back on the period following the World Cup, Murphy is his own worst critic and knows that his form was below what it should have been but a niggling groin injury certainly didn't help matters.

"I was a bit deflated, had a bit of a slump. I had a problem with my groin which wasn't one where you have to stop playing for a few weeks," he explained.

"I could keep going but I was going at probably 60 or 65 per cent. It was just trying to manage it and trying to play at that peak level, I just wasn't quite there. It wasn't a lack of trying.

"I feel like I've got it right now and am getting a bit of an opportunity and am trying to grab it with both hands and do what I know I can."

Murphy is likely to start at openside flanker against Ulster tomorrow and going up against Chris Henry - another who will be hoping to benefit from the injuries to Irish back-row competitors - will provide him with an ideal opportunity to prove to Schmidt that he is back to his best.

It hasn't been an easy road for Murphy but it is one that he feels has led him back to where he wants to be.

Belfast Telegraph

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