Recalled Murphy keen to aid Irish worries
Published 26/09/2007 | 07:41
Second only to O'Gara-gate in the pecking order of controversy that has dominated Ireland's flagging World Cup campaign has been the seemingly endless speculation surrounding Geordan Murphy.
Having been forced to kick his heels in the opening two victories over Namibia and Georgia - his sole game-time coming in injury-time in the first game at Stade Chaban Delmas - Murphy was subsequently axed from the 22 altogether for the crunch game against France last Friday.
In one of the more unique reasons given by a coach for dropping a player, Eddie O'Sullivan stated that Murphy's history against France had counted against him.
If opting for the journeyman Gavin Duffy on the bench looked a strange decision, within hours of the selection being announced, it had snowballed into a full-scale crisis back in Ireland.
Rumours were rife that Murphy had walked out of the camp. One of the more bizarre text messages I received was a supposed eye-witness sighting of the Leicester man in Enniskillen, which arrived at the same time as Murphy was running through his paces in a training session at Stade Bordelais in the Bordeaux suburbs.
It might have been nonsense, but the story grew legs and the IRFU were later even forced to deny that Murphy had left the squad.
"I got quite a few calls and text messages (when the rumour started that he had gone home)," revealed Murphy.
"The first I had heard of it was when I was having dinner last Monday and someone pulled me aside and said they had heard I was heading home.
"But there was no truth in it. I didn't actually take it seriously at the time. I thought it was just a rumour. But when I got back to my room where my phone was, I had had quite a few missed calls asking me what I was doing.
"I assured people that I was still in the hotel and hadn't gone too far.
"I wouldn't do something like that (walk out on the squad). I wouldn't throw the toys out of the pram and walk out on the guys in the middle of a tournament like this."
Just as well. For yesterday Murphy found himself back in Ireland's starting line-up for Sunday's do-or-die showdown with Argentina at full-back as a replacement for the injured Girvan Dempsey.
Having scored 17 tries for Ireland, 12 from full-back in his previous 52 caps, the speculation has transformed into expectation that the double Heineken Cup winner with the Tigers can spearhead Ireland's desperate mission to beat Los Pumas by four tries and prevent their opponents from getting a bonus point in defeat.
Yet if rumours of premature departure from the squad had been false, Murphy admitted his omission from the panel to face France had given way to fears that his chance with Ireland might have passed him by.
"I think there was a little bit of that alright," added the 29-year-old.
" I am back in the side this week because Girv is injured. While I am happy to be back in the side, I am disappointed for him that he is injured.
" But it gives me a shot. It is a massive game for us, a lot of pressure from an individual point of view and from a team point of view. We have a got a massive mountain to climb but at least we have a target.
"It will be difficult and there are many emotions to feel going into a game like this. I am looking forward to having a run."