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Six Nations: Murphy return gives Ireland a boost

By Niall Crozier

Geordan Murphy is honest in admitting that he has benefited from others’ misfortunes with injuries elsewhere having hastened his return to the international stage well ahead of what had been envisaged.

Clearly Declan Kidney had not foreseen himself having to deploy the Leicester full-back. Indeed, Murphy does not even figure in the 32-man Irish squad named in the RBS Six Nations handbook.

Fortunately for Ireland, his recovery and return to active service ahead of schedule following a bad shoulder dislocation has coincided with the enforced exclusion of Rob Kearney, a victim of the drubbing by France a fortnight ago.

But for this unexpected but kindly twist of fate, Ireland would have had a problem with Keith Earls the only option in trying to solve it.

Today at Twickenham Earls is named on the left wing and it is Murphy who will run out with the number 15 on his back for what will be his first start since November 2008 and his first involvement in an Irish side since March 21, 2009 when he deputised for Kearney in the closing stages of the Grand Slam-clinching victory over Wales in Cardiff.

The wait for his 64th cap will make it all the sweeter. Come 4pm today he will be a very happy man.

“I was pretty hopeful that I’d be back for the Six Nations in some shape or form. I’m looking forward to it now,” he reveals.

“I’ve been really enjoying my rugby for the past couple of years and obviously things have been going pretty well for me at Leicester. I was pretty unfortunate to get badly injured five games into the season. I’d a dislocated shoulder that required reconstruction and that was frustrating.

“But as with any injury we suffer, there is light at the end of the tunnel and once I was able to get back training it was great.”

He has played only one 80-minute game since returning, his outings prior to that having been two 20-minute sessions off the bench.

“I played against Northampton for 20 minutes in the LV Cup and then I had 20 off the bench against Leeds as well. I was pretty confident and I was hoping I’d get more time in that second game but it was a pretty close encounter.

“I was really happy to get off the field against Gloucester; I felt good.”

Murphy and Tommy Bowe are the only two players in today’s Irish side who play their football outside the Emerald Isle. As as a result of his involvement with Leicester, Twickenham is a stadium he knows well, the Tigers being regular visitors.

“Yes, I’ve played there a lot. It’s a fantastic pitch, great stadium and I’m really looking forward to the game.”

Although he was not part of what happened in Paris, since returning to the squad he has felt the pain among those who were.

“The boys feel sore about that, but this team, this squad, has had some big wins over the last few years and that winning streak had to come to an end at some stage.

“It’s very, very difficult down there in France and any team in the world will tell you that. Once France hit that form they’re a very difficult side to beat.

“So it’s a measure of this side that the guys are tremendously disappointed and upset at having lost to them.”

And there he sees a plus.

“One of the good things about rugby is that you get the chance to try and rectify it this weekend,” he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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