Murphy demands Tiger feat from Leicester
Geordan Murphy may have been born in Dublin but there will be no hint of split loyalties when he leads Leicester into battle against Leinster in tomorrow’s Heineken Cup final.
The Tigers are chasing a league and European double and will equal Toulouse’s record of three Heineken Cup titles with victory over Michael Cheika’s first-time finalists at Murrayfield.
Irish rugby is riding the crest of a wave following the Grand Slam triumph, Munster’s Magners League title and the fact Paul |O’Connell has been named captain of the Lions.
But Murphy, a former Gaelic footballer for Kildare, has been at Leicester since 1997.
He featured in the Tigers’ back-to-back European triumphs in 2001 and 2002 and nothing would bring him greater pleasure than for Leicester to seal an historic European hat-trick.
"There is a feelgood factor in Irish rugby after the Six Nations and that is fantastic for the country — but on Saturday it will only be about Leicester and Leinster," said Murphy.
"It is the premier European club competition and we would dearly love to win it for a third time.
"The Heineken Cup means a tremendous amount to this club — we have been there or thereabouts in most tournaments — and we have a great relationship with the tournament.
"I have played in three Heineken Cup finals, winning two and losing one, so I know all about both the elation of winning and the depression of losing.
"It really is a bitter pill to swallow when you don’t win and we will be doing everything we can to get that win."
Leicester boast a vastly experienced side, both in international and European terms, but they have struggled in finals in recent years.
Last Saturday’s 10-9 triumph over London Irish to seal the Guinness Premiership crown was only their third victory in eight successive finals.
But the Tigers do head to Murrayfield with momentum after 12 wins from 13 games, including the dramatic shoot-out victory over Cardiff Blues in the Heineken Cup semi-finals.
"Leinster are very strong across the board and have never won the Heineken Cup. That will make them an extremely hungry side and give them the desire to beat us," said Murphy.
"We have made a lot of finals and not won them all. That is very disappointing and something we want to address — we will go and give it our best shot."
There will be no tub-thumping speeches from Murphy. He prefers to lead by example — which means leading from the back.
"Me as captain is not that big a deal. It is just a ‘c’ after my name. It’s not rocket science. I’m not doing anything exceptional with the lads.
“I’m not saying anything special," he said.
"I’m generally losing the coin toss. That’s all."
After the Premiership final, Murphy insisted on retiring club captain Martin Corry lifting the trophy after he missed out on selection in the match 22.
And Murphy indicated he could make the same offer at Murrayfield to give Corry the perfect send-off into retirement after over a decade at Welford Road.
Murphy said: "He is the club captain. He has given everything to Leicester for 12 years and he was unlucky not to be involved.”