Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby Ulster

Murphy sure move north will help nail down regular Ireland place

By Jonathan Bradley

Having opted to leave Leinster for Ulster next season, Jordi Murphy admitted it was a tough decision to move on from his native province.

Ulster have failed in the past to lure international back-rowers to switch Dublin for Belfast, but 26-year-old Murphy put pen to paper on a two-year deal that will see him link up with both Les Kiss and Jono Gibbes for a second time.

"It's been an incredibly hard decision to leave Leinster," said the Irish international. "I have made some great friends and enjoyed some fantastic times, but I am excited by the prospect of moving north and linking up with some familiar faces.

"Having considered my options at length, I realise that this represents a great opportunity for me to challenge for a position at Ulster and hopefully become a more regular feature in the national set-up.

"Ulster is building a strong squad for next season and I'm really looking forward to the new challenge. However, I am fully focused on contributing as best I can for Leinster for the remainder of the current campaign."

Born in Barcelona but growing up in Ireland, Murphy added that he will always be thankful for the support given to him by the Leinster fans as he battled to overcome the serious knee injury sustained when helping Ireland to beat the All Blacks in November of 2016

"Having attended Leinster games in Donnybrook and in the RDS, it was a dream to play for Leinster and to run out as often as I have done in front of such brilliant support is something that I am very proud of," he said.

"The messages that I received from fans in the last 12 months, in particular, I'll never forget."

After a year long courtship, Kiss was pleased to finally get his man, drawing on how both he and Gibbes knew the player from their past roles with Ireland and Leinster respectively during the sales pitch.

"Jordi was one we've been at for 12 months just working around the edges on it. It always helps I think a bit of history with some players. Marty Moore was the same, we both worked with them at the national team and Jono at Leinster.

"I think you'll find that a common theme throughout the game, knowing someone as a coach you'll find something more to work with and I think that does help for sure."

With Murphy arriving, Kiss denied suggestions that it could be a step towards the end of Marcell Coetzee's Ulster career.

The Springbok back-rower arrived to much fanfare in 2016, but knee injuries have limited him to just five games and there were reports in his homeland last month that he would seek a return to South African rugby when he regains fitness.

"I think the commitment is here at this stage," said Kiss.

"I'm going to have a meeting with him later this week. The big thing for Marcell is engaging him in how he can contribute as he is now.

"He did it last year very well, he had a period (when) the players thrived off his energy, thrived off his leadership style, and that's something that he's got to pick up again for the rest of this year.

"It's not only important for us but it's important for him to keep in that space.

"I still feel he can play a strong part off the pitch as well.

"But there hasn't been any indication that he's going to go home, no."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph