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Thursday 13 December 2018

Murray contract deal comes as a comfort

DEAL: Conor Murray has signed a new IRFU contract. Pic: Sportsfile
DEAL: Conor Murray has signed a new IRFU contract. Pic: Sportsfile

The concern over Conor Murray's long-term future has finally been put to rest.

The Ireland scrum-half signed a three-year extension to his central contract with the IRFU, in early September, it was announced yesterday.

Presumably, this would not have happened were there any doubt over the severity of his neck issue and any threat to his playing career.

The IRFU are methodical and careful about their investments. They would not have agreed to the central contract unless there was convincing medical evidence that Murray was not in danger of retirement.

Now, the 29-year-old is one of Ireland's two most important players, with Jonathan Sexton.

The fear has grown in recent weeks that the refusal of Munster to nominate a return-to-play date has been caused by not knowing if he would be back.

Instead, it has been sold as another example of a player who wants to keep his private medical information out of the public arena.

Of course, the most recent comparison is that of Jamie Heaslip, who had to have a second operation on his back problem last season.

Ultimately, the number eight was forced to walk away from the game while he still could. However, this is a different injury with, apparently, a very different outlook.

As is the case for Irish rugby, the season operates in stages.

Murray is already set to miss out on Munster's first two rounds of the Champions Cup.

The next block of matches comes through Ireland's November series, the centre-point of which is the November 17 international between the number one, New Zealand, and number two, Ireland, ranked nations in the world.

Thereafter, there are the remaining four rounds of Europe and the task of defending the Grand Slam in the Six Nations before the business end of the club season takes over again.

"Conor is a genuinely world-class player," stated David Nucifora, the IRFU Performance Director.

"He has illustrated this through the consistent quality of the performances he delivers for both Ireland and Munster.

"He has played a central role in driving the success that has been achieved at national level," stated the Australian.

"We are delighted that he will continue to play his rugby in Ireland for at least the next three seasons."

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