Barry Murphy has praised Andy Farrell’s Ireland team for playing how rugby should be played after three excellent performances in the Autumn Nations Series.
Ireland produced fast, attacking rugby, implementing a varied game plan with plenty of offloads against each of Japan, New Zealand and Argentina this month, which resulted in superb outcomes against quality opposition.
Japan were blown away very early on against the Irish onslaught, New Zealand eventually buckled under the pressure and Argentina ultimately capitulated after a decent first half effort in which they still found themselves down by 17 points.
Former Ireland and Munster back Murphy was speaking at the launch of the Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards and admitted that he was very excited about the future of this Irish side after three emphatic performances this month.
Barry Murphy on Ireland’s promising November.
“I’d be very positive. Foolish maybe. New Zealand did look flat [against Ireland] and they looked flat against France. It’s been a long few months for them and it’s been a long year for them,” Murphy acknowledged.
“But it’s the manner in which Ireland played, and I don’t think we’ve ever seen them play that way. They took the best of what Joe Schmidt brought in; the work around the breakdown and very few mistakes.
“But they’ve added that thing that Andy Farrell had been talking about, where these guys have got to be individuals and learn how to make these decisions themselves. That, for me, is the best way that rugby is played. It’s played that way by the All Blacks, it’s the way France play.
“For the fact that we’ve got that so right, I think we’re allowed to be excited about it. The way we played in the last three games; to put that many points on Japan, New Zealand and Argentina – and we probably could have put another 20 points on New Zealand if we converted the tries. That’s never happened. That was an incredible autumn series.”
No reason that Munster can’t pick up silverware this season.
Murphy played for Munster during the province’s golden years, having started his career with the two-time European champions in 2003, before it was ended prematurely in 2011 after a spate of serious injuries.
Funnily enough, Munster haven’t won any silverware since Murphy’s last season with the club in 2011, and while the Limerick man certainly wouldn’t put their decline solely down to his absence, they are no longer the European heavyweights they once were.
That’s not to say they don’t have a talented squad however, including numerous star players in their area of historical weakness – their backline – and have started the season well with four wins from five in the United Rugby Championship.
Circumstances are far from ideal with Munster at the moment, as the majority of their squad is currently stranded in South Africa following the identification of a new strain of covid-19 in the country, but Murphy believes there is plenty to be positive about.
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Barry Murphy on Munster’s talented backline.
“In light of Munster’s current situation, I would be absolutely positive. It’s been a fairly solid start to the season. There was a few brilliant games – the Scarlets one in particular,” Murphy commented.
“They didn’t play particularly well against Connacht but still got the win. It’s the same old, same old at the moment though isn’t it? Currently on the way they’re playing you could see them getting into another semi-final or final.
“But unless they expand the way they’re playing the game – just by what we’ve seen from Ireland and even Connacht at the weekend. They’ve added a whole new strength to their bow by playing fast rugby. I think that’s the order of the day.
“If Munster can play that way then there’s no reason they can’t. They’ve got such a class squad now. You look at that backline – Zebo, Conway, Haley, Earls. De Allende has been one of the best players in the world over the last 12 months. Carbery is back in form. Murray and Craig Casey. Those guys need to play. So if we can see that happening I don’t see why not.”
Pictured are former rugby players and podcast hosts, Andrew Trimble and Barry Murphy who, today, were announced as hosts of this year’s Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards. The 2021 Zurich Irish Rugby Awards will take place on Friday December 3rd via Facebook Live on the Rugby Players Ireland Facebook page. This year, nine awards will be handed out, including the prestigious Zurich Irish Men’s Player of the Year Award and Zurich Women’s Player of the Year Award