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"Probably not" | Quinlan questions whether Murray is still Ireland's starting 9

Jake O'Donnell
Jake O'Donnell

10:59 13 Dec 2019

A mainstay of the Joe Schmidt era, Conor Murray is no longer guaranteed Ireland's starting number '9' jersey, according to Alan Quinlan. 

Quinlan was speaking on Friday's OTB AM and hesitated when asked whether the Munster number '9' still warranted being Ireland's first-choice scrum half.

"Probably not, because John Cooney is playing so well at the moment," the former Munster and Ireland back-row commented, name-checking Murray's Ulster counterpart as an alternative for Ireland.

While Quinlan says he couldn't see Ireland going into the Six Nations with a half back pairing that didn't travel to the World Cup, he argued that Murray needed to recapture the simplicity of his game if he wanted to hold his jersey.

"I still think Conor Murray is a superb player. He is just a little bit laborious in his delivery.

"I'd just say to him – and he'd probably tell me I haven't a clue what I'm talking about – 'just pass and pass for a while'.

"Zip the ball out there and try and get the ball into the runner's hands as quick as possible."

Adding that one good performance could transform Murray's form and confidence, Quinlan recalled that it wasn't all that long ago that the former Garryowen player showed glimpses of his best.

"He was outstanding against Scotland on the opening day in Japan. People will say then that Scotland were useless. They'll always go to that one but he was outstanding that day.

"He has the full bag of tricks. He is probably trying so hard to find that form and you can get into that position where you are trying a lot and you are just forcing it."

While there is no doubting his quality, Quinlan added that Murray's poor 2019 for province and country means Andy Farrell will have a decision to make come the Six Nations.

"It's certainly a conversation that will come up at the selectors meetings and the coaches meeting about who they would start. It would be a big call.

"Certainly Conor Murray needs to play well in the next few weeks and in the games in January."

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