Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Stunning turnaround for Murphy

Geordan Murphy has been named in Ireland's World Cup squad just 48 hours after being resigned to missing out.

Murphy's selection for the second string against Connacht last Thursday appeared to terminate his hopes of travelling to New Zealand, signalling the end of his Test career in the process, but the foot injury sustained by Felix Jones during Saturday's defeat by France cleared the path for a dramatic return to favour.

With coach Declan Kidney refusing to trust utility players Keith Earls and Luke Fitzgerald to supply cover for first-choice full-back Rob Kearney, he has turned to the 33-year-old Leicester captain. Kidney said: "Geordan - isn't that a real case of the highs and lows of sport?"

He added: "I was involved eight years ago when Geordan broke his leg in Edinburgh. Now he gets his opportunity here too.

"He's an experienced man and brings a lot off the pitch as well as on it.

"We went through a situation in the Six Nations when Geordan, Rob and Felix were all injured. Two of the three are fit now. It's a specialist position and you need to know what you're doing, especially at this level."

On Saturday, Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill indicated he was expecting Murphy back at Welford Road, but Monday's development has left him without his club captain for two months.

Few will begrudge Murphy, capped 66 times, his ticket to New Zealand even if it is at the expense of Jones.

More dramatic was Conor Murray's presence among the 30 names on the list read out on Monday afternoon and even Kidney admits there is something of the "unknown" about the 22-year-old, who only broke into Munster's team this year when he capitalised on an eye problem incurred by Tomas O'Leary.

Having replaced O'Leary for Munster he has now done the same with Ireland, ousting a rival who had been playing on reputation alone until Kidney finally lost patience with him following a dismal display on Saturday. Kidney said: "What Conor can do is little bit of an unknown. He has had a good pre-season but a limited amount of opportunity on the pitch."


From Belfast Telegraph