Saturday 23 February 2019

Fardy: 'In 10 years, he'll be 10 times a better player than me'

Leinster’s Scott Fardy (left) with Josh Murphy. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster’s Scott Fardy (left) with Josh Murphy. Photo: Sportsfile

It is a sign of Leinster's embarrassment of riches that just as one J (Jordi) Murphy decides to leave another J (Josh) Murphy enters the argument for a slot in the back row.

Yes, Ireland's multi-purpose loose forward will move to Ulster in the summer for more guaranteed game time, twelve months after Dominic Ryan headed off to Leicester Tigers with the same intention.

But there had been a buzz about Leinster in pre-season with the impact of the 22-year-old Murphy.

The medical student out in UCD had been tearing it up with his work rate, lineout leaping and obvious intelligence, which was apparent in his defensive positioning on Saturday night.

Then, a broken jaw broke all of his rhythm back in August and shelved plans to break into the first team, which was already stacked with Ireland internationals.

In one sense, Leinster never missed what they never had.

Murphy stayed at the back of the queue until making his debut over 19 minutes against Glasgow Warriors in the PRO14 League in November.

There have been two 80-minute matches since then and the latest, against Ulster on Saturday evening, could be considered man-of-the-match standard.

Murphy topped the tackle count on 21, with none missed, by a considerable margin from Jordi Murphy, on 14, and Ulster's Stuart McCloskey, on 13.

At the moment, there is something of Peter O'Mahony about his appetite for physical contact as a lockdown defender and a tall, lineout option.

The 6'5" in height and teenage experience in the second row makes Murphy ripe for being a student of Wallaby Scott Fardy.

"He's a lot smarter than me. He's doing medicine so he's got me covered in that way," said the 2015 World Cup finalist.

"In the game, he's 10 years behind me and, in 10 years, he'll be 10 times a better player than I'll be."

The Australian did seem genuinely taken aback at the plethora of players coming through the Leinster system.

"These guys coming in are incredible athletes," continued Fardy.

"When I started, the tall blokes like him weren't athletes, like they are now, with him and James Ryan, who can run, pass and do everything.

"The game is definitely changing."

What won't change is the focus on what Leinster can do to stay in charge of Pool Three in the Champions Cup.

They have five points to spare over Montpellier and they will want to stretch that if they can as Glasgow come to Dublin town and Montpellier make their way to excellent Exeter.

"We are confident and that's important, but we're not over-confident," he said.

"We want to make sure that we get the prep right this week going into this big game."

It would be a scar on the season to move so sweetly in the PRO14 only to forego their form against Glasgow.

"These weeks are quickly forgotten if you don't come up with a big result at home in front of a big crowd next Sunday.

"We've got to make sure we're really preparing well and getting everything in order, leading into a big couple of weeks in Europe," insists Fardy.

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