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Jordi Murphy explains whirlwind trip from Belfast coffee shop to Rugby World Cup

Murphy was the only player to miss Tuesday training in Japan and hopes to return to full participation on Thursday

Rollercoaster ride: Jordi Murphy in Fukuoka yesterday
Rollercoaster ride: Jordi Murphy in Fukuoka yesterday
Jordi Murphy making an early exit against Russia

By Jonathan Bradley in Japan

With the news that his World Cup is not over yet, Jordi Murphy could afford a laugh or two at seven days' worth of events he'd hardly have believed back when they started.

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As one of the most eventful weeks of his rugby career began, he was sat in his Ulster colleague Rob Herring's coffee shop Five Percent over in east Belfast last Friday morning.

The pair were due to play together against Ospreys later that day, the first game of the provincial season at Kingspan Stadium, and Murphy was getting some breakfast before the big kick-off that evening.

It was then that the name of Ulster coach Dan McFarland flashed up on his phone screen. The upshot of the call was that it would be Greg Jones and not him starting against the Welsh visitors. Murphy had to pack his bags and be ready in case he was required by Ireland in Japan to cover for a struggling Jack Conan.

For a player who had previously described the feeling of missing out on a second World Cup as one of the worst he has known in the game, it was understandably tough to get his head round the ensuing waiting game. Thankfully, at least, he didn't have to wait long.

A day later, a few hours after the loss to Japan, sure enough the call came from Joe Schmidt. Conan's foot was fractured and Murphy was to head for the airport.

A sympathetic call to his former Leinster team-mate was placed and he was on his way, Russia in Kobe just five days later the target if he was to boost a back-row corps that had already suffered multiple injuries.

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"It has been a bit of a rollercoaster," admitted the 28-year-old. "It was a very quick turnaround. I was in on Sunday but I had to stay in Tokyo because I couldn't get a flight out to Osaka until Monday.

"Then I got to have a quick chat with the lads, and they had already done all the post-mortem (of the Japan loss) and were very much moving on to Russia. The fact that I was playing and was going to be starting in the Russia game didn't give me a lot of time to think about things that had gone past, so it was good for me to look forward.

"I knew that I had to make sure I knocked the jet lag on the head and just get my plays and everything back in order to make sure I was ready."

He certainly seemed to be, providing a scoring pass to Rob Kearney before 90 seconds were out in what was Ireland's quickest ever World Cup try. But if his tournament began abruptly, it seemed set to end in even quicker fashion when a rib injury saw him leave in discomfort after just 27 minutes.

While injuries are obviously part and parcel of a back-rower's trade, this one seemed especially cruel, looking for all the world at the time that his return flight back to Belfast was already in the works.

"I didn't think it (the World Cup) was over," he countered despite the gloomy initial projections.

"I was just incredibly disappointed at the fact that after I suppose the initial disappointment at not making it and then getting the call and I'd picked up something like that.

"The rib just popped. It was one of those things - I got caught between two people.

"I think one of them might have been Jean Kleyn and the other one was one of the Russian second-rows, so it was never going to end well for me. I just felt the pop go - a good bit of pain - and it popped back in after a few minutes and I thought, 'Happy days'. And then it went again.

"I tried to play on but I knew that I wasn't adding anything to the team, and it's not the kind of place you want to be.

"You want to be adding things to the team the whole time, you don't want to feel like you're not keeping up with everyone else. Unfortunately, that was the case at the time.

"Ribs are kind of annoying but you can definitely play on with them.

"I've just got to try and build into the rest of the week. If you go too hard too quickly you can do a bit of damage to them, but I've been assured by doctors and through scans that nothing is too out of place or not functioning well enough, so I should be alright.

"I didn't really know what the final diagnosis was going to be but it's been positive so far so I'm just building into this week and hoping that I'll train fully on Thursday."

As unlikely as it seems, that could, of course, have him in line to even play some part against Samoa on Saturday, the game in Fukuoka where a bonus-point win would guarantee Ireland's place in the last-eight regardless of the result of Japan against Scotland a day later.

"Well, I'm certainly hopeful," Murphy added. "I trained a little bit (on Monday) and I'm hopeful of training fully on Thursday, so if selected it would be amazing. But I certainly feel I could be, yeah.

"I was delighted to be able to play last week. Obviously it was a bit short-lived but the damage isn't too bad so I'm hopeful that I'll get another opportunity at some stage in this tournament to help out the boys."

Hopefully one that lasts a little longer this time too.

Belfast Telegraph


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