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Wednesday 22 May 2019

Murray - no worries

Ireland scrum-half insists criticism of form has been greatly exaggerated

BACK IN HARNESS: Conor Murray congratulates Jonathan Sexton after the out-half scored against France last Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile/Brendan Moran
BACK IN HARNESS: Conor Murray congratulates Jonathan Sexton after the out-half scored against France last Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile/Brendan Moran

Calm down. Calm down. The reports of the plunge in Conor Murray's form have been greatly exaggerated, according to the man himself.

"I suppose you feel it when your family is asking you how you are," he said.

The intrusion into how he is feeling and where he is struggling can be stowed away as outside noise.

"I have felt good, I have felt really good," stated Murray.

"We've just been a little bit off for this tournament and Saturday was a really good step forward.

"During that time, you've to stay realistic and focus on what hasn't been working.

"They've been small things, things you can easily fix.

"I wasn't panicking and changing the way I've been training or the way I view the game, or putting more pressure on, or trying harder within the group.

Small things

"My chats to the c oaches were small things, small little fixes."

Sometimes small mistakes lead to big consequences and the 'lowlight reel' will hover over something like Italy scrum-half Tito Tebaldi's strip of Murray in Rome.

"You know, maybe, the turnover against Tebaldi in the Italy game had a massive effect.

"They ended up going the length of the pitch and scoring a try. That is a small thing, obviously a big effect. That doesn't affect my game."

It is just the way of the game that headline players attract headlines.

Ireland's game plan runs through their half-backs Murray and Jonathan Sexton, more than any of the elite international nations.

As Ireland soared to second in the world, Sexton earned the accolade of the best player in the world and Murray the best scrum-half.

It is the same the world over. The superstars get the praise when the show is performing; the criticism when it isn't up to scratch.

"I've gotten that my whole career," shared Murray.

"When we struggle to get on the front-foot or a team slows down our ball, the nine and ten are usually the first people to cop flak for it.

"That's just the way it is.

"Again, when the team is struggling or is a little bit off, it will come back on you sometimes.

"That is something I had to be okay with from an early age.

"It's not just happening now. It's the way it's been for a while.

"If you look at Sunday, our breakdown was terrific and it allowed us quick ball, allowed us to have a little more time to pick the right option, play our game quicker and have more flow about us.

"It's all inter-twined. We're all dependent on each other.

"You do have to look at yourself first and put yourself in the best space and prepare as well as you can, so that you can play as well as you can in that team."

Apparently, the forensic eyes of the professionals employed to dissect Murray's game has been kinder than the public perception.

"I'm really realistic. I'm really honest with myself," he continued.

"I'm working with a couple of video analysts in here and in Munster.

"I'm looking at my game in detail and it hasn't been much different. It genuinely hasn't.

"There's been a few things I would have been upset with over the tournament.

"You can talk about form and what is form. It's small things.

"Confidence-wise, obviously, you are trying to get to the level that you're used to.

"In reality, it is only small little details that we've been working on and trying to fix," he said.

"Sunday was a step in the right direction.

"There is another big one to come this weekend and we will try and put in another good performance, really get things going."

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