Michael Murphy had to pinch himself when training with Clermont Auvergne

The Donegal star is taking part in AIB's The Toughest Trade

BY Daniel Kelly 13:26 Wednesday 1 March 2017, 13:26 1 Mar 2017

Michael Murphy is pictured ahead of AIB’s ‘The Toughest Trade’ airing at 9.30pm on Wednesday the 1st of March on RTÉ2. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Donegal captain Michael Murphy said he had to "pinch himself" after training with Top 14 giants Clermont Auvergne.

The Glenswilly star spent a week in Clermont-Ferrand in France's Massif Central, as part of AIB's The Toughest Trade. Former Wales and Lions winger Shane Williams moved to Glenswilly for the week, to play with the three-time Donegal champions.

Despite being known as one of the best forwards in the country, Murphy admits he always had a strong interest in the oval ball game.

"I did have an interest in rugby. I always did. I loved watching it at home when I was in Donegal. You would have an idea of the clubs, the players, and that's what brought me to it."

He follows in the footsteps of Aaron Kernan and Aidan O'Shea in taking part in the television programme. In an interview with the Sunday Independent in December, it was revealed that the-then Mayo management duo of Pat Holmes and Noel Connolly originally blocked O'Shea from participating in the show. Murphy revealed there was no issues of him travelling to France, from the Donegal management.

"The one fear that I had was that it would interfere with Donegal. When them logistical issues were sorted out, I knew it wouldn't interfere with the National League. Rory [Gallagher, the Donegal manager] was very, very encouraging too, and happy with it. I was delighted to go, and I'm delighted I did go now. The experience was phenomenal."

Like Williams' game for Glenswilly, Murphy was met with sub-zero temperatures and frozen pitches in France. Despite the conditions, he was impressed by how Clermont regularly cope with the weather.

"It was freezing out there and very, very cold. It wasn't like the weather here... They're so prepared with their professional setup. They are able to turn on the underfloor heating or they can go indoors and do their sessions. They are very well prepared to it. The facilities are huge out there."

When speaking to Murphy, it's clear he has a genuine interest in rugby. He knew what to expect when travelling to France, and about the recent history of the club.

"I'd have know about them coming up short on a number of occasions in finals. They're one of the best teams in Europe. I would have always known about players like [Morgan] Parra and [Aurelien] Rougerie. To be sharing a training field, and be alongside them doing drills and game scenarios, you had to pinch yourself to be able to do that."

"I always had an interest in rugby. I didn't need to go on Google to check them up. I would have known what they were about."

You can see how Murphy copes in Clermont colours, along with Williams playing for Glenswilly in the Donegal snow, on Wednesday night on RTE 2 at 9.30pm.

All previous episodes of The Toughest Trade are free to view on AIB’s YouTube channel www.youtube.com/aib For exclusive content and behind the scenes action from The Toughest Trade follow AIB GAA on Twitter and Instagram @AIB_GAA and facebook.com/AIBGAA. 


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