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Why unbelievable Jordi Murphy will have no problems with quickfire Ireland start after Rugby World Cup call-up, explains Schmidt

Jordi Murphy meets local schoolchildren, having impressed in Ireland training soon after touching down in Japan.
Jordi Murphy meets local schoolchildren, having impressed in Ireland training soon after touching down in Japan.

By Gareth Hanna and Ruaidhri O'Connor

It's all change for Jordi Murphy but his Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is supremely confident that the principal variable will remain exactly the same come kick-off in Kobe.

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Ulster back row Murphy was supposed to be on his way to South Africa by now for his province's upcoming PRO14 double-header.

One phone call from Ireland HQ and plans were immediately changed - a new schedule put into play forthwith.

The first port of call was to take Murphy out of the Ulster line-up for Friday's PRO14 opener against Ospreys, when he had been due to start, as usual, in the number seven jersey.

By the early hours of Sunday morning, he was on route to Japan, replacing Jack Conan in Ireland's World Cup panel.

Murphy may have skipped eight hours when he arrived in camp on Sunday night but, as Joe Schmidt told the gathered press on Tuesday afternoon Japan time, it didn't show come training time.

The coach has named Murphy in his starting line-up to take on Russia on Thursday (kick-off 11.15am BST). Less than six days after news broke of his withdrawal from the Ulster team in Belfast then, the 28-year-old will run out in a World Cup in Kobe.

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"He trained unbelievably well today. He is straight off the flight, he got in late Sunday so he's at least had a couple of nights. He was feeling good yesterday," said Schmidt.

"One of the things is that a 7.15pm (local) game so that's around midday in Irish terms so he doesn't have to recalibrate himself too much to get out and play the game, hopefully.

"We'll give him the weekend then after that. So we are just asking for him to do the best he can for us. The one thing with Jordi is that you seldom get anything other than that.

"He's a really good performer for us and we'd have a lot of confidence about him being able to slot straight in."

Murphy had remained with the Ireland squad even after Schmidt had announced he hadn't been included in the final 31-man squad for Japan and that extra preparation could prove crucial come Thursday.

"It's been a whirlwind 48-hours," he said after training on Tuesday. "I'm really excited to be here, straight back in with the boys. I'm feeling the heat today, it's definitely a bit different to Belfast, where I've been the last few weeks. It's great to get the first session under the belt.

"I had to do a bit of homework, try to get up to speed and try and get my sleep pattern right.

"I spoke to Jack (Conan - who he replaced in the squad) personally straight away. I was very sorry for him and wished him a speedy recovery but, as Jack would be, his reply was 'best of luck. Go out there and smash it.' He was delighted it was me coming out to replace him.

"There's real mutual respect between us. We've been good friends since we played together for seven or eight years now. Jack's a great guy and I'm wishing him a speedy recovery."

Schmidt made 11 changes to his starting XV after the shock defeat to hosts Japan. Among them was the return of Johnny Sexton, who will captain the side for the first time.

"We do need to make sure everyone is ready and involved as much as possible, to get everyone up to speed," continued Schmidt.

"It's pretty tough with a six-day and then a five-day turnaround there's always going to be a bit of attrition.

"We're looking to freshen it up and give guys an opportunity. It's great because we've got some guys who would have been very, very keen to be involved who will get an opportunity on Thursday."

Robbie Henshaw remains with the squad and could make his comeback from a hamstring injury against Samoa on Saturday week.

In his and the concussed Chris Farrell's absence, Garry Ringrose is tasked with starting his third World Cup match in 12 days.

Schmidt admitted it is a risk, but heaped praise on his young centre who has been one of Ireland's star attractions at this tournament.

"It's a risk but he is feeling great, and he's playing super," Schmidt said.

"I thought Garry was really good last weekend, he was one of the guys who didn't really miss a beat.

"He was still working really hard, creating opportunity.

"He moved into 12 we had Jordan Larmour at 13 who's really a back-three player for us, we had Luke McGrath on the wing and we were chasing the game, and that's a fairly tough situation to be in.

"Sometimes because you're limited to 23 players it happens like that.

"Robbie is on the cusp of being available, and if we'd put him back in this week, which we'd thought about, we felt that was a risk we don't need to take because Garry's feeling good.

"We can put Robbie in maybe next week, and at the same time we've got Bundee back, and he's got a fair bit of bounce about him.

"With Chris Farrell suffering a concussion and it being a five-day turnaround, our hands are tied there, and we want to make sure we look after Chris as well and that's part of the formula.

"We thought about potentially moving Keith Earls there, but then we'd have had to keep Jacob Stockdale ticking over, and so it was really based around who was still feeling really good.

"Bundee and Garry have a really good midfield relationship so it works out hopefully that that will still be productive for us."

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