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Brian O’Driscoll: Some of the flak Conor Murray gets is unwarranted

Brian O'Driscoll Conor Murray

The Irish rugby legend has had his say on the form of Ireland’s incumbent scrum-half.

Brian O’Driscoll believes that some of the flak Conor Murray receives for his performances for Munster and Ireland is unwarranted.

The Limerick man is expected to be named in Andy Farrell’s starting XV when the team is confirmed on Wednesday for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Italy at the Aviva Stadium.

Before lockdown called a halt on the 2020 rugby season, Murray was being pushed all the way by Ulster’s John Cooney. However, the Ulster scrum-half’s form has dipped since rugby resumed in August which led to Farrell’s decision to omit him from the squad.

That leaves Connacht’s Kieran Marmion and Leinster’s uncapped Jamison Gibson-Park as the two men who will challenge Murray for the nine jersey.

Murray has yet to hit the heights of the form which saw him play a pivotal role as the scrum-half for the British and Irish Lions in 2017 and this has led to criticism from some quarters.

However, O’Driscoll believes that some of this is unwarranted and he believes Murray’s pass is still the best in Ireland.

“He is someone that exudes a calmness and an influence on those around him.”

“Conor Murray’s pass is the best pass in Ireland,” O’Driscoll said.

 

“What should your scrum-half be doing better than everybody else? It’s passing the ball. I think it’s Conor Murray, then John Cooney, then Jamison Gibson-Park, then Kieran Marmion, purely on the passing level.

“For me, if you’re the best passer, you’re in a strong position straight away.

“Conor Murray has hit some pretty lofty heights in the last 10 years and he’s not at that level in the last two years since the Lions tour and the Grand Slam year.

“But he is someone that exudes a calmness and an influence on those around him. That lack of panic counts for a huge amount. It feels like he’s going to make good decisions more often than not.”

O’Driscoll then goes on to explain that he believes Murray’s speed of decision making isn’t as strong as it was a few years ago and that one area he would like to see the 31-year-old improve is his attacking game.

“I don’t think the speed of decision is as strong as it was in the past. He feels a little more formulaic that he was in the past, I’d love to see the natural footballer in him come out more because he’s a great footballer and he reads the game well.

“I think we need a little more from him in an attack perspective but he’s playing to a game plan in Munster where he’s box-kicking a lot. I don’t think Conor Murray is just choosing himself to box-kick the ball, he is being told that’s the way Munster need to go.

“I do feel that some of the flak he’s gotten is somewhat unwarranted.”

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Today, Guinness teamed up with Irish International and Leinster rugby player, Sene Naoupu and former Ireland International and Leinster rugby player, Brian O’Driscoll to announce a partnership with Canterbury, Intersport Elverys and the IRFU in support of the sale of the newly released Irish Women’s Rugby team jerseys across its retail sites; the Guinness Webstore (https://www.guinnesswebstore.co.uk/?___store=eur_store) and Guinness Open Gate Brewery. The women’s jerseys will be available for fans to purchase from the visitor sites and Elverys.ie from 21.10.2020 while stocks last.

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email seanmc@punditarena.com or on Twitter