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I wouldn't blame Murphy if he did U-turn and quit Ulster: Drico

 

By Jonathan Bradley

Irish legend Brian O'Driscoll has suggested one of Ulster's big-name signings for next season could be forgiven for having doubts over his impending move to the Kingspan Stadium.

O'Driscoll's former Leinster team-mate, and fellow Blackrock College product, Jordi Murphy agreed a two-year deal at Ulster back in December, when it appeared his former Ireland and Leinster coaches Les Kiss and Jono Gibbes were to be at the helm next season.

Since then, one has left and the other is leaving with O'Driscoll speculating it could leave Murphy pondering a change of heart.

"Bet if you asked Jordi he'd rethink his move because the landscape has changed there since his signing," he said on Twitter.

"Hard to leave a good culture with great coaching.

"I hold zero disdain for Ulster but there's no doubt they frustrate me in their underachieving. One Heineken Cup final in the last 10 years is hardly anything to shout about but no doubt there's talent there."

The social media posts came yesterday following an appearance on Irish radio show Off The Ball that sparked upset in Ulster after he labelled the northern province "a bit of a basket case".

With it being reported that Leinster are being pressured into sending either Ross Byrne or Joey Carbery north to fill the fly-half void next season, O'Driscoll said he would not want to make the move in similar circumstances.

Leinster natives John Cooney and Nick Timoney have been among Ulster's best performers this season, while Alan O'Connor has captained the outfit in recent months under Gibbes.

There are more Dublin accents to be heard further down the system and Marty Moore is another already signed up for next season.

"There is a good chance you're going to be winning medals or in the hunt for winning medals (at Leinster) and at the moment, Ulster are a while away from that," O'Driscoll said.

"I wouldn't be in a rush at the moment, and that wouldn't be my first port of call, but maybe they will be encouraged or Joe Schmidt and the IRFU will put an arm around their shoulder and tell them that if they have aspirations maybe they need to go and play more regular football.

"Ross Byrne has really grown this year and he's got a lot more game time than he would have imagined.

"He looked like a nice, solid player and he's really come on.

"Joey is a bit looser and he needs to tighten up, whereas Ross needs to expand his game a little bit to have more elements to his game."

Leinster's excess depth has been of benefit to the other provinces for years and despite his reservations about Ulster, O'Driscoll believes it would not be in the best interest of Irish Rugby to have both Carbery and Byrne backing up first-choice Johnny Sexton so close to a World Cup in 2019.

"That's the problem with your second and third string players, you don't want them to be that good," he added.

"You want them to be good but you don't want them to be really impressive because others will come looking for them.

"It's tricky for them because they are going to leave, Carbery or Byrne, a winning culture, a winning environment.

"Things are clearly not going right at Ulster. They don't have a coach and it's a little bit of a basket case at the moment.

"I think it's more likely to be Ross Byrne who will want to go and get more game time, that is if Carbery is used a little more often at 10.

"Joe Schmidt has been pulling his hair out that Carbery has only had one outing for Leinster starting in the 10 jersey and he's his back-up No.10. That's just not ideal.

"Someone's going to move, and probably very soon, just to get game time because you can't have three quality operators at 10."

• England captain Dylan Hartley has been ruled out of the summer tour to South Africa with concussion.

The 32-year-old hasn't played since the end of the Six Nations and will now sit out the three-Test series against the Springboks on medical advice.

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