Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Murray pays due Care attention

Mike Ross does not expect injuries to dent England's scrum power on Saturday

Danny Care will wreck Ireland's Triple Crown bid in a flash if Joe Schmidt's men hand him free rein, according to Conor Murray.

Ireland scrum-half Murray, who will come up against Care at Twickenham on Saturday, rates his England counterpart among the world's best attacking half-backs.

Ireland have yet to concede a try in the RBS 6 Nations after impressive victories over Scotland and Wales, but Murray is wary of Care's sniping ability to split defences at the fringes.

"He's as dangerous as any in the world with the ball in hand," said the 24-year-old.

"I played against him last year and in the Heineken as well, and leading into that game we had a good look at him.

"He's a threat from anywhere, he'll try anything from anywhere and he has the ability to pull off some really spectacular plays.

"So he's definitely a player we'll have to keep an eye on."

Ireland will chase their first Triple Crown since the 2009 Grand Slam at Twickenham, with stalwart centre Brian O'Driscoll expected to match George Gregan's world record 139 Test caps, including British and Irish Lions honours.

Murray's accurate tactical kicking and precise distribution should prove a contrast to Care's high-octane approach in west London.

The 24-cap half-back admitted he must employ all his defensive nous to shut Care down this weekend.

"Quick taps, little snipes, he's going to go from everywhere," said Murray.

"Whoever's in the line of defence, whoever's closest to the ruck will have to watch him closely; he likes to snipe in and around there.

"He'll try little dinks, he'll throw offloads, and whoever's in that front line has got to be switched on.

"I'll obviously hope to be in behind that looking for those little chips, but whoever's up in the front line I'll just be talking to them, making sure we keep an eye on him at all times."

Unfazed by the Triple Crown pressure, Murray said head coach Schmidt has forced the focus away from the silverware this week.

Owen Farrell has quickly established himself as England's first-choice fly-half in the last two years, even touring Australia with the British Lions last summer.

Murray said working closely with Farrell on Lions duty showed him just why the Saracens playmaker is lauded so highly in so many quarters.

"I got to know him very well on tour, and he's excellent," said Murray.

"He's the focal point of their attack and he's taken a lot of leadership for what they do.

"He's a great kicker of the ball, and his passing game, people might not know too much about it, but on the Lions we got to see it up close and personal, and he has a really wide range of passes and his length of pass is huge so we have to be aware of that as well.

"It's our first away game and it's against a side that's going really well, a side that has experience and is extremely powerful.

"Yes there is inexperience in the back line in places, but with that comes a bit of fearlessness.

"There are threats all over the park and it's definitely our toughest test so far.

"We know there's a Triple Crown on the line and that's a great position to be in.

"But Joe's put us right this week and we've been knuckling down to make sure we're ready.

"We know how hard it will be, and at the end of the day if that pulls off, then great."