Conor Murray recalls his daunting first day in Ireland camp

Munster and Ireland scrum half chats to Ger

BY Raf Diallo 19:27 Friday 15 December 2017, 19:27 15 Dec 2017

While Munster have had challenges off the pitch this season with the likes of Simon Zebo's departure and concerns that captain Peter O'Mahony could follow prior to him signing a three year deal, the European campaign has been going well so far. 

After three matches, the province are top of their Champions Cup pool and this Sunday, Munster take on Leicester Tigers, a week on from beating the same opponents decisively at Thomond Park.

Conor Murray will be key to their hopes in continental action this season and the Ireland scrum half joined Ger for a chat about the season so far and a 2017 which saw him named Irish Player of the Year as his on-field influence continues unabated. 

He touched on the sense of transition at Munster over the past few years, which has seen the departure of Rassie Erasmus and arrival of South African compatriot Johann van Graan as head coach most recently.

"The consistency thing is something that, I won't lie to you, frustrated me for a few seasons, when you feel like you're getting somewhere and then a coach will go and then you come in for pre-season and it's a new coaching setup, it's a new play-book, it's a new philosophy around the way we play, there's new rules around the group," he said.

"I found that very frustrating and now hopefully, Johann will stay around for a while, hopefully enjoys Limerick and he gets into the whole Munster thing. He seems really in awe of it. He obviously knew about it but to be in it now, he seems fascinated by it which is nice and we need that consistency and especially in the playing group." 

Conor Murray ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Murray feels his generation of ex-Munster academy players like Zebo, O'Mahony and others have found their feet as they take centre stage following the successful era spearheaded by the likes of Ronan O'Gara and Paul O'Connell.

"We definitely know our identity, our own personality as a team and whether that feeds into winning cups and winning trophies and competing is the question we'll find out later in the season. Right now, I think it's in a good place and we know we are the core group of the team and we're enjoying it," said Murray. 

And as speculation surrounds key Munster team-mates, Murray is hopeful that the best players will remain at the province and allow them to build.

"Like I spoke about, changing coaches and coming back in for pre-season and doing all that and learning new calls, it was really frustrating and if something like that were to happen with Pete or CJ [Stander] or both left, that would be the feeling again," he said, speaking before the IRFU confirmed that O'Mahony will be staying.

"Because you want to keep building. You don't want to build and go back a level and go and try and build it up again. I think it's really important that those two guys stay."  

He also spoke about growing as a leader and influence, contrasting it with his early introduction to life at Munster and with Ireland.

"When I first came in to my first camp before the 2011 World Cup, driving up the driveway of Carton House and past the golf club, I remember Drico and Rob Kearney and all them were there on the balcony. It was a sunny day and I just felt like turning around and going home because they're guys you looked up to and you supported for Ireland and it was just quite daunting," he recalled. 

Conor Murray is an ambassador for Pinergy’s new WeAre16 campaign - which is giving the most diehard Munster fans the chance to win prizes. You’ll get more details about the campaign on the Munster Supporters Club and Pinergy Facebook pages. Incidentally, sound man that he is, he’s very kindly donated some top, top memorabilia to us - the actual boots that he wore in the Lions tests against the All Blacks - they’re now adorning our studio - you’ll be able to see them in the background when you watch on OffTheBall.com, Youtube and Facebook:

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